Author Chat With Naila Moreira (The Monarchs of Winghaven), Plus Giveaway! ~US/CAN Only

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Naila Moreira (The Monarchs of Winghaven)!

Read on to learn more about the author, the book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: Naila Moreira

Naila Moreira teaches science writing at Smith College and has been writer-in-residence at the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine and the Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her creative nonfiction and science journalism have appeared in Science News for Students, the Boston Globe, the Seattle Times, and elsewhere. She is also an award-winning poet. She lives in Massachusetts.

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About the Book: The Monarchs of Winghaven

Sammie, a budding naturalist, knows of a secret and wonderful place: Winghaven, an abandoned lot in the middle of the suburbs where wildlife flourishes. She spends hours making notes and drawings in her meticulous field journal. When Bram, a new boy, turns up with his camera, Sammie worries he’ll give away her hidden haven—after all, the other boys at school bully her. But Bram is a scientist like Sammie, and together they observe tiny pond creatures, a pileated woodpecker with a red crest like a pirate’s bandana, and thriving monarch butterflies whose habitats are becoming scarce. When Sammie and Bram discover bright flagging tape encircling the trees, they learn Winghaven is in danger from a local developer—and it’s going to take courage, spirit, and science to save it. This beautifully written story, full of details about the natural world, includes Sammie’s field illustrations as well as real-life notes on keeping a nature journal, studying monarchs, and bird-watching.





~Author Chat~


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

When I was a kid, a lot like my main character Sammie, I used to disobey my mother and sneak out to a wild area of grassland and woods just beyond our suburb, about a mile from my house. My mom thought it was too isolated for a pre-teen all alone. But I knew I needed a place to learn to become a naturalist and birdwatcher.

My hours there watching small mammals, birds, and butterflies inspired my novel’s title setting, Winghaven, as well as many of Sammie’s adventures. The land has since been turned into a development, so this book is a way of keeping my childhood haven alive.


YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

I really love the kid who becomes Sammie’s best friend, Bram. He’s kind of annoying at first – too smart for his own good, cocky and self-assured. But at heart, he’s a loving friend and passionate about nature, and his confidence helps bring Sammie out of her shy shell. I always wanted a friend like him.

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I’m really proud of the first scene in the novel. Despite the legendary difficulty of the first page, it’s remained almost untouched since the earliest drafts of the book. Sammie uncovers a creature that a lot of people love to hate, but to her, it contains all the beauty of nature and offers her a symbol of renewal and growth. I like to think I managed to convey that sense of wonder about an often maligned animal.

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

The cover illustrator, Ellie MacKay, brilliantly captured my main characters – both their appearance just as I imagine them, and their intrepid attitude. My favorite thing about the cover is how they’re emerging through a glowing, secretive hole in the underbrush, peeping into a thriving world of animals and plants. Their stance evokes the magic of leaving the ordinary world behind to step into the secret wonders of nature.


YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2024?

I’m looking forward to a book that came out a little before mine, and that’s up next on my TBR pile: THE CURSE OF EELGRASS BOG by Mary Averling. It looks geeky and sciencey and magical and creepy. I’ve always loved books about magic, mystery, witches and demons – and I mean, how perfect is it for a science and nature lover like me that the main character lives in her family’s Unnatural History Museum?


YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

THE LOST WORDS: A SPELL BOOK is a gorgeous piece of poetic artwork by writer Robert MacFarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris. Both MacFarlane and Morris are consummate conjurers of nature. Through elegant poems and paintings, the book takes up the task of restoring words and knowledge about nature to the lives of children who too often now spend their days indoors. I both write and adore poetry, so I love that their book has a similar aim to my own novel – to connect kids with the outdoors.


YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I’m mid-process on a novel set around the natural landscapes of islands and the ocean. The sea is a long-time love of mine – I used to be a docent for the Seattle Aquarium and did an artists’ residency at the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island in Maine. This new novel will be a fantasy rather than set in a realistic world. Writing it has been an exciting change from the grassland and forest habitats of MONARCHS.

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

I think my superpower as a writer is my ability to deeply re-live a place and a moment in my head, and write down what a reader needs in order to fully see that instant in time, too. Like Bram in my story, who’s a photographer, I love a perfectly composed snapshot, but instead of a camera I take my photos with words.


YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?

The Audubon Society figures in a big way in my book. I grew up attending Audubon Society birding field trips and have learned so much from their naturalists. One event featured in the novel is the Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count, where birders spend a cold winter’s day competing to identify as many species as possible, as well as to count how many birds of each kind they see. The event aims to documents broad changes in bird populations over time via the involvement of citizen scientists.

Bird populations face countless threats, so it’s crucial to support this organization that promotes their welfare through habitat protection, advocacy to fight climate change, and education.


YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?

Writing is a beautiful way to suffer. There’s no way around it: writing is hard, from cudgeling one’s brains for a first draft, to revising into a clean manuscript, to the angst of submitting to an agent, to the angst of submitting to an editor, to the strain of tearing the book apart again for professional edits – and then all the nitty gritty details of shepherding the book out into the real world. But what a magical thing to do, in the end – the opportunity to inhabit the worlds of the mind and share the technicolor landscapes of the imagination with others through the alchemy of words. If you love it, do it, for the process more than the result. And try to find a community of writers to suffer alongside you, because friendship, whether in person or online, makes the struggle so much more worth it.




Title: The Monarchs of Winghaven

Author: Naila Moreira

Release Date: 5/14/24

Publisher: Walker Books US

ISBN-10: 1536218308

ISBN-13: 9781536218305

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Age Range: Middle Grade 8-11




*Giveaway Details*

Five (5) winners will receive a copy of The Monarchs of Winghaven (Naila Moreira) ~US/CAN Only


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7 thoughts on “Author Chat With Naila Moreira (The Monarchs of Winghaven), Plus Giveaway! ~US/CAN Only”

  1. araskov says:

    This sounds like such a wonderful adventure. I think kids should totally get outside exploring more and this is just the type of adventure to inspire that!

  2. This looks lovely!

  3. astromgren says:

    What a great read!

  4. OpenedBooks says:

    This is such a great book for young naturalists!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful book! The cover is really pretty.

  6. ltecler says:

    This sounds fantastic. Great for kids interested in activism and the environment.

  7. The cover is gorgeous and this book sounds exciting.

Comments are closed.