Learning How to Look

Andrew and his father, Peter Raymundo (right), with a deep sea diver in Bay Lake, Florida 

“Inspiration is everywhere,” says author and illustrator Peter Raymundo. “You just need to know where to look. Or, better yet, how to look.”  

The creator of several ocean-related children’s books, Raymundo is also my father. I have joined him on many of his research trips to auquariums across the United States. During our recent visit to the second-largest aquarium in the country, located at Disney’s Epcot in Florida, I was finally able to get an interview.

“This is exactly what I’m talking about,” Raymundo said, pointing to a white starfish with distinctive brown spots. “It’s beautiful, right? But when I found out that it’s called a ‘chocolate chip starfish,’ I laughed, and knew it had to be in my next book. That’s just one example of how my characters are born.”

Raymundo says that nothing inspires him to write more than reading. His favorite books growing up were “stories that take you to other worlds, but worlds that are somehow connected to ours.”

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis are two favorites. “Sometimes, the link between worlds is just a character’s imagination,” Raymundo said.


“Giving readers a fun and exciting story is always my first goal,” says author and illustrator Peter Raymundo.


While researching the first title in his Third Grade Mermaid chapter book series (Scholastic Press, 2017), and his most recent picture book, I Am Not a Fish! (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019), Raymundo discovered that a surprising number of sea creatures are nearly extinct, including sharks, sea turtles, and whales. He also learned that human activity is degrading the health of the world’s oceans at an alarming rate.   

“Giving readers a fun and exciting story is always my first goal,” Raymundo said. “But I also hope that by helping to foster a love for the ocean and its creatures, my books can inspire future generations to care for the only world we have.”



Photos courtesy of the author