2016-10-06 / Community

Author offers kids a world of exploration

Signing set for Sat., Oct. 8 in T.O.
By Stephanie Bertholdo

GLOBAL FUN—The cover of the first book in a planned series of nine by Oak Park resident Debbie Widerøe. GLOBAL FUN—The cover of the first book in a planned series of nine by Oak Park resident Debbie Widerøe. A local author has captivated the imaginations of students and local school districts with a book about exploration and the environment.

Debra “Debbie” Widerøe, an Oak Park resident and visiting professor of communication at Pepperdine University in Malibu, will read and sign “The Adventures of Camellia N.: The Arctic,” her first book in a planned series, at 1 p.m. Sat., Oct. 8 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Thousand Oaks. Activities and cookies will follow the reading.

The series is being published by Notable Kids Publishing.

Widerøe said the story about “pint-size explorer Camellia N.” is the first in a nine-part series. In the character’s first adventure, she heads north—as far north as possible—to the Arctic, where she learns about what makes this region of the world one of the “most magical locations on our planet.”

Debbie Widerøe Debbie Widerøe The adventure series will take early readers on expeditions to all seven continents and will help children gain an appreciation for the environment, including wildlife and natural resources, Widerøe said.

“The book series not only educates and entertains, but encourages children to become global ambassadors,” she said.

In addition to exploring the world above ground, upcoming books will take children on journeys under the sea and into outer space.

Widerøe said the idea for the story came to her in a dream, but her upbringing in Southern California with an animal-loving father who was an early pioneer in sustainability practices also inspired her.

“We grew up recycling (and) taking care of all wildlife surrounding us, including taking in a stray duck, wild birds, squirrels and deer,” she said. “We grew up planting succulents before it was in vogue and reusing rainwater and recycling plastic before anyone had ever heard of the concept.”

The arctic was chosen as Widerøe’s first region to explore in the series because of her affiliation with the area.

“I have spent nearly 20 years visiting the Arctic region,” she said. Her husband is Norwegian, and they visit the area regularly.

“I have been captivated by the sheer beauty of this region and its significance in the world environment,” she said. “When most children think of the Arctic, they conjure images of magical lights, polar bears and fairy tales. Although the Arctic seems very remote and so very far away, its unique ecosystem is intricately tied to life on the rest of our planet, making it an ideal starting point for my environmentally focused educational series.”

Widerøe earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and studied under Gerry Lesser, co-creator of “Sesame Street.” She has worked in children’s educational television for years both on and off the air, having written, produced and directed several children’s programs. She also directed the marketing of cartoon series including “Looney Tunes,” “Pinky and the Brain” and “Animaniacs.”

For the past 17 years, Widerøe has been a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, teaching teaching integrated marketing and advertising courses while overseeing the communication division internship program. She also taught at Cal Lutheran, where she served as director of the MBA program.

Widerøe’s book is being integrated into classrooms and school libraries in Oak Park and Las Virgenes school districts. Some teachers are using it to teach students about the environment. She has also established a pen-pal program with schools in Las Virgenes, the Bay Area and Norway.

“Tying my book series into the Common Core brings Camellia N. to life and makes the messaging even more meaningful to students,” Widerøe said.

For more information on the series, visit her website at www.debbiewideroe.com.

Return to top