ROCKPORT – It’s almost time for kids to head back to school, or take their first steps into pre-school or kindergarten. Rockport’s newest author recently published a book to help young readers kickstart their learning adventure, taking them on a tour of all the world’s wonders from the Aurora Borealis to Zion National Park. “Nature’s Alphabet Adventure: Discovering Wonder from A to Z” by city resident Darcy Brandt is available on Amazon for $20 a copy.
As the name implies, the book takes the reader on a photo tour of many interesting places and earthly phenomenon, listed alphabetically. This allows young children to help internalize the alphabet while learning fascinating facts about the world around them.
While many of these wonders might be hard to experience up close, such as “K” for the kelp forests of the deep seas, most Hoosiers could experience at least some of these features relatively easily. For example, “L” for limestone cave is fairly a fairly ubiquitous sight hereabouts. Brandt offers a brief description of how ancient water flows hollowed out limestone deposits, resulting in wide open caves such as Bluesprings Caverns to the north and the Wyandotte Caves to the east.
Brandt has not had the opportunity to travel much, at least for sightseeing. She did, however, find adventure in the books she read as a child. When the time came to decide on a course of study, Brandt kept with that passion, earning a degree in creative writing with a minor in studio art. But as it so often happens, passions sometimes have to take the backburner for a while.
“I really wanted to get back into writing because I did a lot in college,” said Brandt. “And then I had a period of time where I didn’t do much because I had to take care of life.”
Specifically, she became a caregiver to her parents as their health began to fade. When they passed, Brandt needed yet more time to heal.
Fortunately, she had family to keep her moving. Brandt’s nieces and nephews share her love of reading. Furthermore, her brother set her up with a rescue dog to keep her occupied and give her cause to get back out into the world.
With that motivation in hand, she decided to rekindle her passion for writing, and she found her first inspiration with a niece who had a particular fondness for the natural world. With that in mind, Brandt cultivated public domain photos of some of the world’s most wondrous places and sights and started writing “Nature’s Alphabet Adventure.”
It proved a good way to ease back into both of her collegiate pursuits, getting her back into both writing and illustrating. Eventually she hopes to produce her own illustrations in future works, and there will almost certainly be more in the near future.
Brandt’s rescue dog, Lucy, has become such a big part of her life that the next book will likely center on the story of how they came together. While it was Brandt who took Lucy in, she maintains that her new companion more than carries her weight.
“It’s kind of like a story about rescue,” said Brandt. “But more that she rescued me.”
Her focus on writing books for kids stems in large part due to the importance of reading in her early life. Watching her nephews and nieces grow up reading certainly plays a part as well. That said, there is also quite a bit of satisfaction in just getting back into the swing of an old hobby and trying to make something more of it.
The publishing process was not without a few glitches, but the first corrected prints are already being shipped out. In the end, that success was enough to get Brandt moving on her future projects and honing her skills.
For all those who might be hesitating to write their own books, short stories, poems or other works, Brandt said it’s worth it just to have a creative outlet. One doesn’t have to publish or share something once written, and it’s hardly a failure to have to rewrite something or set it aside for another project. Brandt herself didn’t decide to publish until the age of 40, though she’s been writing from an early age. If you’ve got something to say, even to yourself, the important thing is to sit down and write.
“Just do it,” said Brandt. “Getting through your emotions is really healing, just really work at it.”
Story and photos by Don Steen