An author whose book is in line for an award next week was out and about spreading her message earlier this week.

Debbie McCauley's reason for visiting schools is the same as it was for writing Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill: A story from the Rena Disaster.

"It's more of an environmental thing - teaching children to look after their backyards," she says.

As well as the contents of the book, she has also been inviting children to participate in the short play that was performed at the books' launch.

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Debbie was a children's librarian for four or five years and says that presented the opportunity to see lots of new children's books - some of which were good and some of which weren't.

She also realised that no-one had written a children's book about the Rena grounding and subsequent impact.

"I wrote the book because I didn't want it to be forgotten and because I think it's important that we know stories from our own backyard - it's where we live and these are our stories," she says.

She spoke to children at three schools about the impact of the oil spilled from Rena on wildlife, telling them that there were 2016 birds known to have died as a result, but that 365 little blue penguins were saved.

She also spoke about the processes involved in writing a book and what people can do to help protect little blue penguins such as keeping dogs on a leash, keeping cats indoors at
night, being quiet around the birds, not shining torches at them and not blocking their burrows.

Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill: A story from the Rena Disaster is a bilingual book and is Debbie's second book for children.

It's more of an environmental thing - teaching children to look after their backyards.

It is a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The winners will be announced on August 13 in Wellington.