Tag Archives: albatross

06 Mar

Heights and Depths: A Writing Life

In the space of a week, I’ve gone from the heights to the depths.

First, the good news.

Last week, I was thrilled to learn that my book, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross was given a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. This book has defied all the odds–just as Wisdom has done.

“. . .Pattison writes crisply and evocatively, and her closing notes provide a wealth of information and resources for readers interested in Wisdom and her fellow albatrosses.” Publisher’s Weekly 2/18/13

The story is about a 60+ year-old albatross who lives on Midway Island and survived the Japanese tsunami. For over 60 years, she has soared over the North Pacific, only coming to shore to breed. Scientists estimate that she has hatched over 35 chicks, including one each year for the last five years. Last year’s chick was named Wonder and this year’s chick–just a couple weeks old now–was named Mana’olana, Hawaiian for Hope. Yes, a 62-year-old bird just hatched a new chick!

After the 2011 Japanese tsunami, I heard her story of survival and within six weeks, I had contacted scientists, researched her life and times and written her story. I contacted about twenty publishers and none would publish it. I decided to work with my long-time friend, wildlife artist Kitty Harvill to publish it from my own imprint, Mims House. Now, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that it would be a long hard road. But it was an important story, one I couldn’t let go.

It won the Children’s Book category of the 20th annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published award, a $1000 cash prize. So, I submitted it to Publisher’s Weekly for review and it earned a Starred Review! Right now, it is an Amazon bestseller (for the spring season, the ebook version is only $0.99).

The starred review was especially nice, because it was a validation of all the work we had put into the book. Go look for yourself: self-published can be quality.

Next, the Bad News

Publishing has weird math. 9 months + 5 revisions = NO.
The rejection I got yesterday was shocking and painful.

For nine months, I have been working with someone on a project and it has developed in amazing ways. The critiques were spot-on and I revised like crazy. I deleted chapters, added chapters, rearranged chapters, deepened characters, searched for ways to add humor. Then, I did it again: I added a character, took out a subplot, deepened characters and searched yet again for ways to add humor. I expanded the climax scene, set it up better. I created a stronger emotional arc, added a stronger villain. I revised.

I love this story now.
It was rejected.

The world tilted for me yesterday.
Nine months. Three major (huge, gigantic, difficult, rewarding) revisions and a couple more minor ones.

Yet, the moon rose as usual, I slept.
The sun rose as usual, I got up and showered and ate breakfast.
I have already queried someone else and will send it to them today.
I am raw. I feel wounded. A trust betrayed. A grieving because they couldn’t see the story in front of them; they only saw what they would have written, if only they were writers.

Are they right? Are they wrong?
I don’t know.

I only know that this is a heartbreaking week, but last week was an uplifting week. This is just the heights and the depths of our profession; somehow, it feels normal. And regardless of the reaction of others to what I write, my job is to plod along putting one word after another.

So, today, I will write.

23 Jan

Oldest Bird in World: Name her Chick

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison

Award Winning Book about the Oldest Bird in the World

Last year, I wrote this book about the oldest bird in the world who was on Midway Atoll when the Japanese tsunami struck. It’s an amazing story of survival that just won’t stop. At the age of 62+, she is about to hatch another chick. Yes! A mother at 62+

From Wisdom, the Midway Albatross’s Facebook Page comes this exciting news:

SEABIRD ALERT: Name my new chick and make a difference too!

Thanks to a dedicated Facebook friend of mine, were are going to have a contest this year to name my soon to born chick!
** And this year, I am sincerely hoping that the USFWS_Pacific Region and The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument will work with me on this endeavor **

Here is how it will work:
– Once the winning name is selected, a $500 DONATION will be made on behalf of my newborn AND the name of the person who comes up with my newborn’s name — which me and my crazy beautiful partner will select. (Unless the person selected chooses not to have their included)

Regarding the donation:
– The $500 donation will go directly to Friends of Midway Atoll NWR a non-profit organization

AND … wait for it …
– My dedicated Facebook friend will also make 2 additional donations directly to:

– the Kure Atoll Conservancy, AND

– an organization (yet to be named) which supports TERN ISLAND in French Frigate Shoals, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Note: On DEC-16-2012, a freakish weather event (possibly a tornado) struck the camp at Tern Island, causing extensive damage to the facilities at this needed camp. Fortunately, the one intrepid employee and four tenacious volunteers were unharmed!

** the fun part is this: we won’t know the actual amount of these 2 additional donations until the name is selected!

This naming contest is open to everyone; and leave your name choice as a comment on Wisdom’s Facebook page.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Did you know that albatrosses have an 8-foot wing span? In this video, shot at the 2012 Audubon Summer Camp, kids compare their arm span to Wisdom’s wing span.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Teacher resources:

01 Jan

The Oldest Mother in the World Wins Book Award

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, the subject of my 2012 picture book has returned to Midway Island and laid a new egg. She was banded by Chandler Robbins on December 10, 1956 while sitting on an egg and presumed to be a minimum of five years old. That makes her at least 62 years old–and she’s going to be a new momma. Wow!

Wisdom and her mate prepare to begin their first shift of incubation, Photo credit: Pete Leary, USFWS

More from Pete Leary, the wildlife biologist on Midway.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison
We also have exciting news about the book: it is the winner of the 20th Annual 2013 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, in the children’s picture book category. Among other prizes is a $1000 cash award. Winners will be officially announced in the February issue of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Read more about alternate publishing. Read more about how to write a children’s picture book.

11 May

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross


Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Kitty Harvill

Children’s Picture Book: Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

The oldest wild bird in the world, documented with banding, is Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. When the Japanese Tsunami hit on March 11, 2011, her nest was in the path of danger. This is her amazing story of survival of manmade and natural disasters for over 60 years.

  • She has survived manmade disasters: longline fishing, plastic pollution, water pollution, and lead poisoning.
  • She has survived natural disasters: predators, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, including the Japanese earthquake.

At 60+ years old, she’s still laying eggs and hatching chicks. Among the birds of the world, this albatross, its ecology and life are amazing. It’s a story of survival and hope amidst the difficulties of life.


  • One of the featured titles in Classroom Connections: Taking Flight with Books about Birds, by Jeanette Larson. May 2012 (Book Links.
  • “Wisdom’s story makes my heart soar.”
    Kirby Larson, author of Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Winner of the Newbery Honor for Hattie Big Sky.
  • “On December 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the ‘downtown’ area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy, and incubating again in December 2011. While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her. . . remarkable true story. . . beautifully illustrated in color.”
    Chandler S. Robbins, Sc.D, Senior Scientist (Retired), USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.
  • “As both a seabird conservationist and a mom to young kids, I highly recommend Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. Wisdom’s true story of survival is exciting and artist Kitty Harvill brings her to life in illustrations that are beautiful and accurate. Having worked to protect these magnificent creatures, I find it wonderful to be able to share their story through this book!”
    Jessica Hardesty Norris, Ph.D., Seabird Program Director, American Bird Conservancy
  • “It’s marvelous! I LOVE it! And I got a lump in my throat, tears! And I’m a biologist! Your book is beautiful, meaningful, simple, elegant………thank you for caring, thank you for sharing this story!”
    Kim Rivera, National Seabird Coordinator, NOAA Fisheries, Deputy ARA, Protected Resources Division, Alaska Region



We wish to thank the following photographers for their amazing photos, the basis for much of our artwork. Thank you for making this book possible.

  • Pete Leary
  • John Klavitter
  • David Patte
  • Brenda Zaun
  • Michael Lusk


Darcy Pattison, author of Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

Darcy Pattison

Published in eight languages, Darcy Pattison’s (www.darcypattison.com) recent children’s science and nature books include Prairie Storms (Sylvan Dell) and the forthcoming Desert Baths (Sylvan Dell). Her books have been recognized for excellence by starred reviews in Kirkus and BCCB, Child magazine and Nick Jr. Family Magazine Best Books of the Year lists and various state reading award lists. She was the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Awards, Individual Artist Award for her work in children’s literature. Darcy and her husband have three daughters, one son, three sons-in-law, one granddaughter and two grandsons. When not writing, Darcy can be found quilting or hiking.


Kitty Harvill, illustrator of Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

Kitty Harvill (www.facebook.com/KittyHarvill) specializes in wildlife art, especially endangered species, and works in watercolor, pastel, oil and cut-paper. She is internationally recognized among bird artists. She has a dual residency in the Arkansas/U.S. and Brazil and is actively involved with the conservation efforts in southern Brazil. Recent titles include Up! Up! Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time (Holiday House) and Vida Livre, with Brazilian author Adélia Woellner , a story about the endangered Red-tailed parrot. Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Harvill holds a BFA cum laude in painting from SMU and an MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an AA in illustration from Ray College, Chicago.


WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years. Written by Darcy Pattison, Paintings by Kitty Harvill.

JNF003270 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Animals / Endangered
JNF003030JUVENILE NONFICTION / Animals / Birds

EPub: ISBN 9780979862182
Paperback: ISBN 9780979862175
Pub. Date: February 1, 2012
Retail Price: $11.99
Pages: 32
Trim Size: 8.5 x 8.5
Binding: Softcover
Backmatter: Resources for teachers/parents

For more information, see Wisdom’s website at http://albatross.darcypattison.com

06 Mar

News from Wisdom

Once in a while, it’s time for Shameless Commerce and Book Plugs. That’s today.

Free Book for 48 Hours

FREE: GET my latest book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for Over 60 Years this weekend for free.

    ONLY AVAILABLE FREE FOR 48 HOURS – 12 am on March 9 to midnight on March 10.

    Read the story of the oldest known wild bird in the world–over 60 years old–and how she and her chick survived the Japanese Tsunami.
    For 48 hours before the March 11 Japanese tsunami, this will be a free Kindle download.

    No color Kindle? No problem.
    This book shows up well on any Kindle desktop program or app. Get the free programs here:


    Download your Kindle program now and on March 9 or 10, download the book. Read with your kids to commemorate the tsunami and discuss natural disasters. Gentle introduction to the disaster.

  • Goodreads Giveaway Ends Soon!

    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    Wisdom, the Midway Albatross by Darcy Pattison

    Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

    by Darcy Pattison

    Giveaway ends March 11, 2012.

    See the giveaway details
    at Goodreads.

    Enter to win

Reviews and News about Wisdom

has been reviewed and featured several places lately.

Teacher Resources for Teaching about Tsunamis and Earthquakes

Top 108 Sites about Tsunamis and Earthquakes

Comprehension Questions for Teacher-Made Accelerated Reading (AR) type quiz, use with Common Core Standards or other educational uses.

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