Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May are authors on a mission: to get kids unplugged and encourage them to imagine their summers spent outdoors. In their family summer reading series, The Islanders, the duo teamed up to show kids that it can be fun to turn off their phones and really explore the marshes found all over the Lowcountry.
The second book in the collection, “Search for Treasure,” is set locally on Dewees Island, and is a story about friendship, adventure, and the healing power of nature. It was released on June 14 and debuted in a top spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list in the Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover category.
On June 29, as part of The Daniel Island News Author Series, Monroe and May paid a visit to the Daniel Island Club for a meet and greet with fans of all ages. Participants enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, the opportunity to purchase books and have them signed, and a presentation of the book by the dynamic writing team. The event benefited Reading Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community empowerment through individualized, one-on-one reading instruction using a network of volunteers. To learn more, visit readingpartners.org.
The characters in The Islanders series quickly learned that Wi-Fi is not a part of daily life on Dewees Island, and they must find a way to engage in good, old-fashioned summer fun. In “Search for Treasure,” Jake Potter has returned to Dewees for another summer with his beloved grandmother, Honey, and his two best friends, Macon and Lovie. Jake decides that the trio needs a new mission, just like they had the previous summer in saving the turtles. This time, their search leads them to discover there might be actual buried treasure somewhere on Dewees, all while they battle some unwelcome guests on the island, of both the two- and four-legged kind!
When asked about the series’ rapid success, Monroe commented, “It tells me it’s the right book at the right time. It’s a challenge to determine what memories you’ll create with your kids. The best childhood memories are made when we are spending time outdoors.”
May added, “We wanted kids to feel the magic of Dewees Island and realize that there’s magic to be found in their own backyards.” Just like the characters in the book, May’s real-life family keeps a nature journal that will later serve as a treasure box to store their summer memories.
The story injects a touch of environmental education, a passion for Monroe. The alligator in the story, “Big Al” is based on a real fixture on Dewees — a 16.5-foot alligator. “Big Al gave us an opportunity to teach proper behavior around alligators. We wanted to teach kids
that this is a cool animal that you’ll want to respect,” Monroe explained.
When the co-authors were asked about their team effort, Monroe said, “This is the only collaboration I’ve done. The book is better for the collaboration. Angela is the mother of middle school aged kids. She’s got the dialogue down.”
In perfect synchronicity, May added, “We feed off of each other’s energy. It’s a dream come true to write for children with Mary Alice Monroe.”
“Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May make a great team,” said Sue Detar, publisher of The Daniel News. “‘The Islanders’ series and their presentation showed a love of nature, adventure, family, reading, writing and collaboration that is both inspiring and entertaining. We can’t wait to have them back when the third book comes out!”
The Author Series is sponsored by Loopit, the Daniel Island Community Fund, and Bublish, Inc.
The next event will be held on Aug. 31 at 4 p.m. at the Meyer Vogl Gallery and will feature “History & Humor from the Greatest Generation.” Island authors Bill and Ann Stevens will discuss their book “Dalton and Grace: Whimsical Short Stories of Life in Charleston” and island residents John and Linda Common will share their book “Dearest Bea”, a nonfiction collection of letters set home from a doctor in the 82nd Airborne stations in Europe during World War II.