Donna McDine’s “A Sandy Grave” is a summer children’s adventure that involves a beached whale and intrigue over some stolen teeth.

Q: What was the inspiration for the book?

McDine: Many of my story ideas come from current event articles. I developed A Sandy Grave from an article several years ago about a whale that washed ashore on a California beach and the authorities had to guard it so poachers of the whale’s teeth would not tamper with the dead whale. Once the marine biologists determined what the whale died from, the authorities dug a large hole in the beach and buried the whale. Hence, the title… A Sandy Grave.

Q: What kind of research did you do?

McDine: Since the authorities were involved, I researched why someone would want to steal teeth from a whale. Apparently, the teeth are made of ivory and poachers steal and sell them to artists in the creation of scrimshaw. I then researched the Endangered Species Act and the Mammal Protection Act and how these laws are instrumental in protecting animals.

Q: Were there any qualms about making the book center on death?

McDine: I didn’t hesitate with the death aspect since it’s a fact of life we all need to deal with at one time or another, both young and old. With intertwining a mystery to be solved and the laws protecting animals it provides an adventure too.

Q: What’s your favorite beach?

McDine: Hmmm. This is a tough one. I have to say Long Branch, NJ by my best friend of over 35 years. I also love the Caribbean… the aqua blue ocean and warm water temperature is incredible.

Q: The Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act – any reason for your interest in them?

McDine: The news article specifically mentioned both these acts and the reasoning behind these laws and how important they are to the survival of animals.

Q: What kind of marketing/promotion have you done so far?

McDine: I have conducted school visits, entered book award contests and I’m over the moon A Sandy Grave has won the Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Purple Dragonfly 2014 Award First Place Picture Books 6+, and Story Monster Approved 2014. I will also be participating in several book festivals over the next six months, plus A Sandy Grave and I went on a virtual book tour several months ago and I continually connect with librarians and teachers to discuss my books and to hopefully instill the love of reading with their patrons and students.

Q: Is the book seasonal? Or are beach books still strong in the winter?

McDine: When I first wrote A Sandy Grave I thought it would be a seasonal summer book, but the topic goes well beyond a summer vacation at the beach. With including the Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act it provides a strong topic for classrooms throughout the year.

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