Meet Author and Illustrator Colin Marshall
Updated: Feb 28
Colin is a biology teacher with a degree in Biological Imaging. He is developing a new series of resources, perfect for curious young minds who love nature! The aim of Living World Education is to support how children understand the natural world through communicating concepts and the diversity of life on Earth. A self-confessed shark nut, he has just completed his first 48 page, non-fiction book The Living World of Sharks and is currently working on range of reading books and resources for phonics and two further "Living World titles (The Living World of Ice and Snow and a book focussed on Dinosaurs!)
Colin is passionate about the natural world and educating children about the importance of understanding and valuing the world we live in.
1. What is your favorite shark and why?
It would have to be the Great White! They really are the rock star of sharks and there is so much more being discovered about them. I am really excited at the social behaviors being discovered including "clans" of whites and even some long term sibling associations! I was lucky enough to see some huge whites in South Africa and was stunned by the variation in personalities, appearance of individuals and the sheer mass of the animals. Incredible!
2. What is one species of shark you would love to see/swim with and why?
Just the one? Ok, I'll go for a Basking Shark. I'd love to experience being in the water with a big one! I have failed time and again at seeing Baskers in Cornwall, England, so in 2020 I am determined to see one! Luckily, my son adores snorkeling, so I will have a buddy eager to jump in with me. There are some blue sharks that are increasingly local too, so they would be a wonderful runner up prize.
3. What inspired you to create a book about sharks for kids?
I studied Biological Imaging at university and have always enjoyed scribbling animals since I could hold a pencil. I have always rather liked the idea of creating nature books and sharks were the obvious topic for my first project. As a huge shark fan I have always been fascinated by the differing solutions sharks have evolved to a massive range of evolutionary questions - from reproductive strategies to physical adaptations and surprising behaviors - they are such a diverse group! It frustrates me that a general opinion of sharks has become so stereotyped and negative. Too many shark books focus on a narrow range of species and there is so often a sensational hype around attacks - sharks are awesome enough without this! More than ever, sharks face such difficulties it is crucial that a counter-narrative exists.
4. Do you think art is important for conservation?
think conservation is THE important issue we have today. Any method of promoting the importance of wildlife and getting kids to value and treasure it will play a part. As a teacher myself (in my real job!) I find that imagery is vital to share an idea. Being able to visualize something helps to cement the learning and help apply the concept elsewhere. Getting children to engage with some of the creative projects we have on our site (and are so proud to share with Sharks4kids!) encourages them to consider the biology of these animals. Whilst fun, it has a superb impact on their deeper understanding of the animal.
Click HERE to download this JAWsome shark craft
5. What message do you hope people take from your artwork?
I would hope firstly that the audience are entertained and enjoy discovering something that may be new or seen differently. If I can plant a few seeds of curiosity, I would be very, very happy! The reaction to the book has been lovely as I have had parents telling me they now have a "favorite shark" and how they found out about a new species having been drawn in by the character on the page.
6. Do you think creating cartoon sharks engages students more?
deliberately wanted to draw the sharks with a little character as I do think that does engage children. Some odd-looking sharks lend themselves to this more than others, the goblin shark, frilled shark or cookiecutter being good examples. The mako already has this slightly unhinged, wild-look to it, and my version has a rather 'wired' expression and the way the mouth gapes was ripe for exaggeration! I have a bold visual style but wanted to have sharks that remained faithful in terms of anatomy, so that they were representative of the animal and would help a young person recognize it in life or on screen.