Q&A with Robert Burleigh + a Book Giveaway

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of this new book.

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of this new book.

I’ve been a fan of Robert Burleigh‘s writing for the past few years. I was delighted to receive an advance review copy of Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue, his newest picture book that’s out later this month.  As soon as I finished reading it, I began researching the story on my own and was fascinated.

Trapped! tells of a humpback whale who gets tangled in a fisher’s ropes and nets and then explains how divers worked to get her free.  It teaches children about the importance of human responsibility for animals and the planet. The book is illustrated by talented Wendell Minor. You can use Trapped! to teach a variety of craft moves to young writers (e.g., varied sentence lengths, strong verbs, changing font treatment, onomatopoeia, creating a sense of place, back matter), which make it a text worth having in informational mentor text basket.

Knowing I’d want to use this book in writing workshop with students, I wanted to ask Bob a few questions about this book and his writing process. I hope you’ll be able to use this interview with your students if you decide to use Trapped! as a mentor text in your classroom.


SAS: When and how did you first learn about the whale rescue off the coast of San Francisco?

RB:  By looking over animal rescue stories on the Net. Wasn’t looking “for a story,” just general interest, but this one seemed very dramatic. I got hooked.

SAS: How did you do your research for Trapped?

RB:  By reading about whales, especially threats to whales. Also spoke to some people who have participated in whale rescues, etc.


SAS:  You and Wendell Minor have published books in the past.

RB:  Wendell and I seem to click well together.  We were assigned to do a book for Atheneum, then got to know/like one another.  Wendell is a wonderful artist, but is also exceedingly knowledgeable about the world of children’s literature. He’s been very helpful to me in my writing, research, and my increased interest in that field.


SAS:  What’s one thing you hope children say or do after they finish reading Trapped?

RB:  I, of course, hope they would reread the book a few times!  But seriously, I hope they would understand a bit more about the danger to whales in the wild, and by extension, to all wildlife.


SAS:  Have you ever used the news to inspire picture books before?

RB:  No, this was the first time I came to a story from this angle, although there are many contemporary news articles that could lead one to a good story.


SAS:  Any advice for aspiring young writers who want to be published authors when they grow up?

RB:  To put it simply, read more and write more.  And when they feel they find an area of deep interest, they should follow their instincts.


SAS:  What are you reading right now?

RB:  I’m working on a book about Walt Whitman, so I’m doing a good deal of reading about him, his poetry, his times, and the Civil War.


Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.


Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor. Many thanks to Charlesbridge for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue, please leave a comment about this post by Friday, April 17th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Sunday, April 19th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Charlesbridge will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – TRAPPED. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment.  Katie’s commenter number was selected so she’ll receive a copy of Trapped!  Here’s what she wrote:

I just heard this story and an interview with the divers on a radio program last weekend. I’ve retold the story to anyone that would listen. I’d love to share the story and the book with my students! They’d think it was so cool that someone wrote a book about a story I’ve mentioned.