Interview with Anita Sebastian, author of the Ranger Anne Series
What is your favourite Ranger Anne title and why?
That’s a good question and one that many people ask me. The answer lies in the stories that are inspired from real events: This includes the Active Leopard, the Curious Snake, the Magical Fireflies, the Graceful Giraffe and the Smiling Slow Loris.
But if I had to choose only one, it would have to be the Active Leopard. That was the first story I wrote and the one I always told the children I used to babysit. After my work at the Night Safari, they would ask, “How is the leopard?” or “Did you play with him today?”
I like writing stories in layers and I don’t like explaining feelings and thoughts, especially important ones. I would prefer that the reader feel the emotion her/himself. In the Active Leopard story, Ranger Anne has a bad dream about her friend, Leonard the leopard. And so, she just could not wait to get to work the next day to see for herself that Leonard was fine.
When I do storytelling, I usually pause here to ask the children if they have bad dreams and what they did about them. Usually one little darling would raise her/his hand and ask, “So what happened to Leonard? Is he fine?”
Then I know that the children got the message from my stringing together of simple words. They could see how Ranger Anne feels for her friend and the story is relatable, although I am 100 per cent sure that none of them has a leopard friend.
The other stories have layers and are interesting too, but in other ways.
How did you use your zoologist background for your Ranger Anne series?
Central message is tough for an over-achiever like me. There were a few things in my mind when I started writing. The main thing was that young people would appreciate animals and perhaps, start looking at them in another way, not just as pets and food.
Animals are incredibly beautiful and perfectly made. It’s a beauty that you can only sit back and marvel at.
And animals should be in their natural homes, or at least what comes close to it. And so, the message also includes saving the forests and reserves as these are the animals’ homes. It’s important for a child to see that the earth is hers/his to take care of for her/his children and grandchildren.
I also have peripheral objectives as well. I wanted the protagonist to be a little girl as I felt girls need good role models, that they can do any job that they feel truly passionate about. That’s also why there are vets and other female rangers who work with Ranger Anne. The work is hard, but everything good usually is.
I was also concerned about stereotyping animals; cute animals are the only ones that children love or snakes are bad. I loved taking care of a baby python when I worked at the Night Safari. And I hope I translated this experience in the Curious Snake. I did not want snakes to be pantang or ‘bad’ animals because of superstition or other reasons. A snake is just what it is: A snake. Would it bite? It might… because it is a snake
What other titles can we look out for in this series of 12 books?
I tried to include animals such as mammals, birds, reptiles and fish as well. So we have Ranger Anne on land and in the water, but sorry, she was not in the air.
The Ranger Anne series:
Set 1 Active Leopard, Curious Snake, Flying Stingray, Proud Flamingos
Set 2 Magical Fireflies, Noisy Elephant, Graceful Giraffe, Smiling Slow Loris
Set 3 Mischievous Orang Utan, Clever Tiger, Playful Tapir, Gentle Antelope
To find out more about the series, click on the book bundles.
Anita Sebastian is a local writer and editor. She is a zoologist by training from the National University of Singapore. The Ranger Anne series is inspired from her time working at the Night Safari in Singapore many years ago. Anita weaves narratives that also carry interesting facts about each of the animals in the series. The series is aimed at instilling an appreciation for animals and nature in young readers. The narratives allow opportunities for discussion on humananimal interactions as well as traits such as resourcefulness, commitment, compassion and communication. Anita was featured on 938live on the Women of Worth segment where the Ranger Anne series was discussed.
Click to order: