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  • Link to Mary Andromeda and the Amazing Eye on, which includes customer reviews, can be found HERE
  • Basic book information, and answers by the author to frequently asked questions, can be found below.  A PDF file of this information can also be downloaded HERE
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Basic Book Information, About the Book, About the Series, About the Author

Title:  Mary Andromeda and the Amazing Eye
Series:  The Journals of Evergreen Isle, Book 1
Author:  J.G. Kemp
Stories in Science
ISBN: 978-1539778158, paperback, 196pages,

About the Book:
Like the mythical princess Andromeda, who was chained to a rock by her parents and left to be devoured by a terrible sea monster, 11 year old Mary Andromeda is powerless – held captive in her cruel uncle’s mansion since her mother left her, six years ago. But when an unexpected gift and a sudden turn of events brings her to Evergreen Isle, a mysteriously abandoned island-of-science, she begins to learn the truth: about her mother’s departure, the plans of a secret society, and her own place in an ancient family of astronomers.

In the first book of The Journals of Evergreen Isle series, author J.G. Kemp weaves the wonder of astronomy, technology, and science history into a fast-paced, adventure mystery, set in the near future.

About the Series:
The Journals of Evergreen Isle series is a middle grade, adventure mystery, science education book series by author, illustrator, and science educator, J.G. Kemp.  The series follows the adventures of five children as they discover their hidden past and their connection to Evergreen Isle, the mysteriously abandoned island-of-science developed by the Royal Fellowship Society, an elite and secretive group of scientific nobility.  Events and people in science history, science content, emerging technologies, and perennial issues involving science and society, are seamlessly woven together with an unrestrained tone of wonder in this fast-paced, coming-of-age, adventure.  The series highlights science practices such as problem solving, collaboration, skepticism, and most importantly, curiosity.

About the Author:
Before beginning The Journals of Evergreen Isle book series, J.G. Kemp taught high school Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, Biology, and Physics.  He holds degrees in both Educational Curriculum and Instruction, and Visual and Performing Arts, from the University of Colorado.  He enjoys mountain climbing, stargazing, visiting National Parks, and exploring alleyways and old trails.  He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, with his family, abundant sunshine, a glorious backyard garden, and the Great Mountain ever calling him home.

Frequently Asked Questions of Author J.G. Kemp

Q:  You say your book is about “Science, wonder, and the magic of reality.”  What do you mean by that?

A:  Imagine how Galileo must have felt when he looked into his newly built telescope and saw, for the first time, the craters on the Moon or the moons of Jupiter.  He was astounded, and we know that because he wrote about it in The Starry Messenger.

But that wonder of seeing something for the first time is something that anyone can experience, the first time they actually look through a telescope.  It’s not enough to look at gorgeous, high resolution, colorful images taken by the Hubble.  Those pictures are wonderful, but there is nothing like, for example, seeing Saturn, in all its plain simplicity, with your own eyes, in real time, through a telescope.  Those moments of wonder and awe and amazement are available to everyone, not just the scientists that discovered something first.

That is what I hope to express in this story.  Mary looks into a telescope and is struck with the same sense of wonder that I imagine Galileo felt when he looked in the telescope, or that many people experience when they look into telescopes.

In the book there are references to historical scientists and events in science history, and the main characters learn to reason and solve problems and approach their situation in a scientific way, such as learning to be skeptical and making conclusions based on evidence.

The book is about wonder and the magic of reality because once the children find themselves on Evergreen Isle, and they have the freedom to explore and learn and experience nature firsthand, instead of just through textbooks, they awaken to the natural wonder that is all around them, from sunlight reflecting off the moon, to the evaporation of water, to the existence of an entire galaxy outside of our own.

The “magic” in the book refers to the incredible, marvelous, and amazing phenomena which really happens in our world.  There is no fantasy in the story, and our world is more fantastic than anything anyone can imagine.

Q:  You were a high school science teacher before beginning the Journals of Evergreen Isle series.  How does your experience as a science teacher influence the book series?

A:  As a high school science teacher, I felt a constant pull between allowing students the freedom to explore and experiment on their own, and needing to lecture on the explanations and conclusions and facts that are established science.  I found that teacher supervision and authority, and the constraints of a bell-schedule, and the lack of appropriate materials, nearly always stifled or limited students’ curiosity.

In the book, there is a group of kids, 11 and 12 years old, and there are no grown-ups around, and they are stranded on an island, and they can explore these abandoned estates which were used in scientific research.  The kids are completely free to fail, and then try again, and fail, and work together, and they ultimately succeed, all on their own.  Evergreen Isle is a place where they are finally free to follow their own interests, and to find themselves in a sense.  Where would you rather be, sitting in a desk, listening to a teacher lecture on telescopes, or actually looking through a telescope?

Q:  You say your book is “science-education fiction”.  How is it different from science fiction or other books for the middle-grade audience?

A:  It is different than traditional science fiction in that there are no impossible inventions and it doesn’t take place in a highly speculative future.  The book takes place in the present, or perhaps the very near future, with technology that already exists and that is becoming more common place, such as driverless cars and drones.  Nothing in the story breaks the laws of physics, like faster-than-light travel for instance.

I call it science-education fiction because my primary goal with the book is to teach science –  science content, science history, a scientific way of thinking – not to speculate on the future.

Regarding other books for middle-grade audience, for the most part, you have fantasy, where kids have magical powers and there are portals to different worlds; or you have realistic and comedic middle-school dramas where the underdog is the hero; or you have heart warming, poignant stories, often with talking animals, that explore loss and pain.

I wanted to combine all the best aspects of these categories into a book which is also founded on science education.

The Journals of Evergreen Isle has elements typically found in fantasy: exciting adventure, maps of unexplored lands, family trees, and a rich backstory.  But there is no magic; the world is strictly our own.  Because the story revolves around a group of kids who are stranded together on an island, there is naturally some “middle-school” drama and interpersonal conflict.  And although there are no talking animals (there are genetically engineered bioluminescent mice, however) the story explores loss and pain with universal themes like “coming to terms with losing one’s mother”, and “not living up to your father’s expectations”, which are all a part of growing up.

Q:  What do you hope people take away from your book?

A:  First and foremost, I hope when people finish this book, they set it down, and step outside, and close their eyes, and enjoy the warm sunshine pouring down upon them, or revel in the sound of the wind in the trees or the ocean surf, or gaze up at the night sky in wonder.

Going to Evergreen Isle represents a return to nature from the ever more virtual and digital and unnatural and futuristic world in which we live.  Our modern world does not provide food for the soul like the wilderness does.  The modern world is draining and exhausting and stressful, and when the kids reach Evergreen Isle, they become more alive, their imaginations are more active, they become entranced with exploring the natural world, free from the cares and expectations of their former life.  Everyone can use that.

Secondly, I hope readers take a minute to appreciate the magic of reality.  Science informs us as to how the universe really works, and it is more wonderful and fantastic than anything a person could imagine. Real magic is not a flick of a wand and some words spoken in Latin, it’s things like photosynthesis, or gravity, or a cell phone and the physics that make that technology possible, and the decades of engineering and effort by thousands upon thousands of people that have converged and resulted in a functional device that allows wireless communication across tens of thousands of miles.  Science and technology are the real bringers of magic, and reality is more magical than fantasy.

But more than that, the human imagination is the most magical thing of all.  We all have the power to conjure up new thoughts and visions and scenes, and create fantastical stories and dream and invent.  One by one, the kids realize that this universe is actually happening, and it’s incredible, and they are a part of it, and their imaginations become more active, and they dream more vividly.  I hope readers begin to feel that way, and will want to go to Evergreen Isle themselves, and follow their own passions, and perhaps even pursue science themselves.