Get to Know Jennifer Keats Curtis

Jennifer is the author of two great Sylvan Dell books: Turtles in My Sandbox, and Baby Owl’s Rescue. She was nice enough to answer a few questions for Sylvan Dell about her books and writing.

What advice do you have for writers looking to develop or maintain a regular writing schedule?

Regular?! From personal experience—with a very active and fun family including pets; working on books and writing and editing for two magazines; and speaking at schools, I find it nearly impossible to maintain a regular anything! However, I find that, for me, I have to set aside time to write as soon as I’ve finished my research; otherwise, my motivation (and memory) fizzles.

 What are the most frequent questions you receive as an author?

Kids often ask me why I write. I write because I’m nosy! For one thing, when you tell people you are a writer, they start dishing their deepest, darkest secrets, which is always great fun. Plus, the writing process allows me to learn about things I’d otherwise not have the opportunity to know about—like terrapins, owls, and wildlife rehabilitators—and to get answers from real experts.

 What do you hope that children will learn from your stories?

I hope my readers find my words and the illustrator’s fabulous art entertaining and interesting and that they learn a new fact and consider possible ways that they might help animals in need.

 How do your personal experiences shape your stories?

When I was a kid, I didn’t think I liked history. I struggled to memorize dates, facts, and leaders’ names. However, as an adult, I began reading historical nonfiction, and not only do I love it, I have discovered that I remember those important facts love history because it’s written as a story. As an author, I love writing realistic fiction because this is the genre that allows me to create an entertaining story without preaching important information about animals and the ways in which we can help them.

 What does being a green author mean to you?

It’s really an honor that the kids have nicknamed me the “Green Author!” I’m lucky to be able to research and learn about ways we can help our environment from kids, teachers, and experts. I love being able to pass some of this advice along in person and through my writing.

Jennifer Keats Curtis wants to help bring children close to the animals in their own backyards.  By diligently researching her topic and interviewing real experts, including children working to help preserve and protect local wildlife, the journalist has developed a knack for teaching young children about important ecological issues and what they can do to help. Jennifer’s first book, Oshus and Shelly Save the Bay, won the Frederick Douglass Award (Maryland Council of Teachers of English Language Arts). She also wrote Osprey Adventure, based on the work of Peter McGowan, a biologist with US Fish & Wildlife. Most days, Jennifer can be found among students and teachers, talking about literacy or conservation. She also regularly presents writing workshops to elementary school sudents. When she’s not in schools, Jennifer contributes to several magazines and serves as editor-at-large for Maryland Life Magazine. Avid fans of anything having to do with the outdoors, Jennifer and her family spend their summers in and on the Chesapeake Bay. She resides in Maryland, with her family and a wide variety of pets, including a turtle. Visit Jennifer’s website at


2 thoughts on “Get to Know Jennifer Keats Curtis

  1. I too Jennifer, think that writing creative nonfiction is the most fun. Actually I like the reseach as much as the actual writing. Learning about a subject while entertaining yourself with a creative story in my opinion; is just a natural for children to retain information. Thanks for sharing your writing experiences and habits. Wishing you great sucess with all of your research and writing!

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