BAR HARBOR — Artist and illustrator Rebekah Raye and science and nature writer Kimberly Ridley will talk about the collaboration between art and science that led to the creation of their popular children’s books at an Art Meets Science Café to be held at the MDI Biological Laboratory’s Kinne Library on Monday, Sept. 19, at 5 p.m.
Their talk is entitled “The Hidden Worlds of Vernal Pools and Estuaries.” Raye and Ridley are the award-winning illustrator and author, respectively, of the children’s books “The Secret Pool” (Tilbury House, 2013) about life in vernal pools and “The Secret Bay” (Tilbury House, 2015) about life in estuaries.
Raye said that the illustrator of a children’s book typically doesn’t meet the writer, but in the case of her and Ridley, they were friends for many years before their publisher, Tilbury House, asked Raye to illustrate Ridley’s manuscript. The publisher wasn’t even aware that the two were friends and admirers of one another’s work.
“It was a dream come true,” Raye said. “I had always been in love with her writing and could see the visuals like crazy in my mind and in my heart.”
For Raye, learning about the lives of the creatures she paints is critical to the creative process. “The science is in the art,” she said. Before she does a painting, she needs to know how an animal, bird or insect relates to the environment. She asks questions about what do they do to survive, where they sleep and what they eat.
Ridley notes that most people barely notice vernal pools, which may be no more than water-filled depressions in the forest floor, or estuaries. But these frequently overlooked habitats are the source of life for many interesting creatures and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment.
“The Secret Pool” is the winner of numerous awards, including a 2013 Riverby Award from the John Burroughs Association at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which is given to “excellent natural history books for young readers that contain perceptive and artistic accounts of direct experiences in the world of nature.”
The book is also the winner of a Lupine Award from the Maine Library Association and was named to “Down East” magazine’s list of best children’s books.
Ridley and Raye also will talk about their leadership of workshops for elementary students that combine science, creative nonfiction writing and art. Using “The Secret Pool” as a launching pad, students learn about the ecology of vernal pools and write and illustrate their own science-based stories.
The workshops are offered through the nonprofit Mount Desert Island-based organization Island Readers & Writers, which brings authors, illustrators, scientists, reading enthusiasts and historians together with children in Maine with the goal of inspiring a passion for reading and learning.
The laboratory’s 2016 Art Meets Science exhibit will be on view prior to the café starting at 4:15 p.m. The café is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available. This will be the last MDI Biological Laboratory café of the summer. Visit mdibl.org/events/.