Rochelle Strauss - Author
Rochelle Strauss is an award-winning author, freelance writer and education consultant in Toronto, Ontario. A graduate of McGill University and York University, Rochelle specializes in the development and implementation of environmental education, communication and outreach initiatives. Rochelle has consulted on national and international projects and her clients have included museums, architects, designers, parks, NGO's, governments, schools and school boards.
In addition to her consulting work, Rochelle is also an accomplished children's author. Her first book, Tree of Life: the Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (Kids Can Press 2004), has received several book honors and has been published in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Korea and Egypt.
One Well: the Story of Water on Earth (Kids Can Press, 2007), Rochelle's second book, was released in early 2007. Endorsed by Jean-Michel Cousteau (Founder and President Ocean Futures Society, Inc.), Maude Barlow (Chair, Council of Canadians and author of Blue Gold) and Charles Hopkins (UNESCO & UN University Chairs, York University), rights to One Well have already been sold in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
An enthusiastic presenter, Rochelle truly enjoys the many opportunities she has had to participate in festivals, conferences and school presentations across North America.
Through her work, Rochelle combines her love of nature and passion for stories to teach children about the wonders of the natural world. Among her favorite animals are dolphins, nudibranchs, bromeliads, penguins ... and, of course, her son.
Where do you live?
Who is in your family?
There are two of us --- my son and I!
Do you have any pets?
Yes, two goldfish --- Peanut Butter and Jellyfish.
What is your favorite book?
Adult Book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Kid's Book: Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
What is your favorite movie?
Right now it's Finding Nemo! I love watching it over and over and trying to identify all the marine creatures. I even spotted a nudibranch (sea slug) last time I watched it!
What are your hobbies?
Softball, writing, reading, hiking and making my son laugh.
When did you start writing?
A long, long time ago!
What was your schooling or training?
I did an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master's degree in environmental studies.
How did you get involved with children's books?
Right from the time I was born, I loved books! My favorites as a child were Corduroy and Winnie-the-Pooh. As a teenager, I loved reading books and telling stories when I was babysitting, so it wasn't long before I was dreaming of writing and publishing my own stories. When I started studying more about education and nature, I knew that I had to start writing books about all the incredible stories in nature.
What is the thing that you like the most about creating children's books?
I absolutely love researching and discovering new facts. For me researching is like doing a huge puzzle --- you stare at the pieces forever, then suddenly find what you are looking for and start putting the pieces together. It is fun, challenging and really, really exciting!
Where do you work?
I have my own educational consulting company called Strauss House. I get to work on different projects and with different people all the time ... and I also get to work from home!
How do you create your stories?
There are so many really weird and wonderful stories in nature that they almost create themselves. I just write them out so that others can learn about them.
Do you have any tips for young creators?
Dream big, follow your heart, love what you do and most of all, never give up!
What is your favorite childhood memory?
One of my favorite memories is when I was a little girl living in Montreal. Our house was filled with books about the ocean --- especially about dolphins and whales. I looked at the books all the time and loved learning about dolphins. One day, we went to the Montreal Aquarium and my mother knew some of the trainers working that day so we got to go “backstage” to meet the dolphins. There was a baby dolphin there, no bigger than me. She wouldn't swim anywhere near the adults, but when they left, she swam right up to me. We both stood there (well, she floated), staring each other right in the eyes, really checking each other out. It was a really incredible and powerful moment ... and I think its one of the reasons why I love animals so much!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the first female baseball player in the major leagues and to pitch for the Montreal Expos. I also wanted to be a marine biologist.
What is your next project?
I am working on some new ideas for books about nature ... and also some fiction stories!
Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
The only insight I have is that the stories I told in Tree of Life are just the beginning. There are so many other things to learn about each of the species found in the book ... and about all species on the Tree of Life. I would encourage the readers to explore on their own and make their own interesting discoveries!
What is the weirdest or most interesting job you have ever had?
The most interesting job I ever had was working on a Biodiversity museum in Panama City, Panama. I learned a lot about Panama, the formation of the isthmus (the land bridge between North and South America), and about tropical nature. I even got to go to Panama, where I hiked through a rainforest for the first time and got to visit some of the museum scientists in their labs.