It is the 10-year anniversary of the Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center, and Mt. Hebron’s very own Ms. Jerdine Nolen has had the prestigious honor of having her book, “Plantzilla Goes to Camp,” added to the list of the top 10 books for National Bullying Prevention Month. Many students know Ms. Nolen as a Special Education teacher; however, she is recognizable nationwide for her remarkable children’s books.
Mt. Hebron graduate, Zayneb Omer, is one of the many people who read Ms. Nolen’s books as a child.
“I read ‘Lauren McGill’s Pickle Museum’ and ‘Plantzilla Goes to Camp’ when I was a kid,” said Omer. “I loved them. Ms. Nolen’s books are really good. She totally deserves this.”
Her book “Plantzilla Goes to Camp” is about a young boy named Mortimer Henryson who goes to camp. He leaves his beloved pet, Plantzilla, behind only to discover that a horrible bully will be his bunkmate. Luckily, Plantzilla finds his way to camp and steps in to save the day. He also teaches the bully a valuable lesson about friendship.
“Plantzilla Goes to Camp” was inspired by her prior book, “Plantzilla.” The overall message of both books is that “when you give a living thing love, you never know where it will lead.”
It is quite the honor for Ms. Nolen to be given this impressive recognition. This book highlights bullying and how a plant — who grew because of his owner’s love — is able to defend Mortimer from harassment.
“I’ve seen [bullying] happen and safely interrupted. Maybe Plantzilla is an alter ego for me,” Ms. Nolen said.
Although reading and writing books about bullying does not necessarily prevent or stop it, it “gives a vicarious experience and allows us to engage and see ourselves in it,” she said.
Ms. Nolen claims that she never made a decision to become a writer.
“I’ve always been writing. For me, it’s as natural as breathing,” she said.
Ms. Nolen will be releasing a young adult novel on Feb. 14, 2017. Her new novel, “Calico Girl,” takes place during the Civil War and follows the story of a young girl whose family are slaves.
Through her books, Ms. Nolen has expressed her desire to show how normal family life, especially African-American family life, is wrongly portrayed at times.
“I just want to tell stories that relate to me and family,” said Ms. Nolen.