by Kelly Merritt
It takes a very special person to write a children’s book. It takes a teacher who loves children to write children’s books that help them learn and grow into better people. That’s what author Joan J. Curley has done for decades, including her next hardcover book dedicated to the members and workers of the Conservancy of SWFL for their commitment to the health and wildlife of Southwest Florida.
Joan Curley’s upcoming K-3 children’s book, Malcolm the Muscovy Duck of Naples, Florida is written about her fond appreciation of a duck that she observed, researched and named Malcolm. It is brilliantly illustrated by Sam Platt.
“Actually the Muscovy duck is a very good duck,” said Curley. “If you have a dog and you don’t take care of it, then it will be dirty – ducks can’t clean up after themselves but they kill bugs and spiders that are not supposed to be touched by us.”
Curley and her husband visited the ponds to learn more about the duck that so often gets a bad rap.
“Everything in the book is true,” she says.
Curley, who is a past president of the Naples Press Club, has seven previous books published. Her last was entitled Lucian’s Boat, The Story of a Boy’s Life by the Sea. She was inspired to write it while viewing a painting called Low Tide by Tom Cardamone at the von Liebig Art Center Show after a little cousin of hers had passed away from cancer. The book, for both parents and children from grades 4 through high school, tells the story of Lucian, a little boy growing up with a boat and his parents who witnessed and nurtured his growth and development.
In her letter to her readers and in dedication to him, Curley wrote, “I hope to have parents tune in to their children’s interests no matter what they might be. Sometimes kids know what they are interested in.” The book highlights the continuing cycle of renewal in the dreams of children’s futures. Drawing on another locale and experience observing animals, Curley’s book, The Dandelion Slayers is set in Martha’s Vineyard and is about rabbits.
“I used to sit outside and watch this family of rabbits and the baby boy rabbit had a bad paw – the rest of the family came through our hedge but the little boy rabbit couldn’t go through the fence,” she said. Such darling stories have inspired her books over the years, tales to which children can easily relate.
Curley was a fifth grade teacher, a junior high school guidance counselor and then became an elementary school principal. When her husband, Neil, retired, however, they began to travel to and live in places like Bermuda, Guam, Egypt and Japan. They fell in love with Japan and also helped a young woman named Keiko to learn English and over the years encouraged her to become a dentist. Keiko, who was the inspiration for Curley’s book, Hi, My Name is Keiko (A
Glance at Japan) continues to come and visit the Curley family.
Joan and Neil Curley’s love of children and their lifelong dedication to children continues to inspire the author in her children’s books. She plans to have a signing for Malcolm the Muscovy Duck of Naples, Florida at Barnes & Noble. For copies of the book or information on signings, visit www.barringerpublishing.com.