Children love learning and Rachel Haydon is hoping they will have fun doing so with her new book The Nature Activity Book.
Written by Haydon, who is the general manager of the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, and illustrated by Pippa Keel, the book is full of conservation, observation, experiments and mindfulness to stimulate curious minds.
Although it is aimed at 6-12-year-olds, Haydon says younger and older people will also find it fun and exciting.
Haydon is a qualified primary school teacher and scientist with a zoology degree and masters in marine science. She has more than 15 years experience of teaching science to children of all ages in schools, museums, zoos and aquariums in Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Before taking on her present job she worked at Te Papa in Wellington.
"My boss at Te Papa asked me one day if I was going to write a book what would it be. They loved my ideas so I decided to write a proposal to Te Papa Press. I didn't hear anything for ages and in the meantime moved to Hawke's Bay. Then I got a call and it was all on," Haydon said.
"This book represents every weekend, every single minute of spare time a working mum can get. But it was all worth it. I loved doing it — it's what I am passionate about.
"It feels completely surreal going into a bookshop and seeing my book. I think to myself 'I created that' — it's also very humbling."
Haydon says science can often be seen as too hard to learn.
"In reality science is just about asking questions. Why does it do this or that, then gathering evidence and testing. Kids are excited about learning."
The illustrations are beautiful. Haydon says that Te Papa Press send her five samples of illustrations.
"Pippa Keel was hands down the best. I loved the natural, playful fun of them - perfect for my target audience.
"I was also totally impressed with Te Papa Press. The team they put together around me was amazing. They answered all my questions, were gentle and supportive. Nothing was a problem. It was a wonderful collaboration of creative people."
The Nature Activity Book caters for children who like to draw and those who like to write.
It is the perfect book for school holiday fun and for parents to pop away and bring out later in life to recall what fun and adventures they had.
Haydon hopes young readers will be inspired by her book and that it feeds their curiosity.