Today at Berkeley Lab

A is for Albatross, and B is for Beautiful Book of Birds

Lab attorney and daughter pen—and paint—new book on birds

front-cover-copyRobin Chiang’s 10-year-old daughter Rosalie needed a new project. It was December 2015, the start of the Lab’s annual holiday shutdown, and Robin—a patent attorney for the Lab’s Innovation and Partnerships Office—was ready to spend more time with his family. “Rosalie’s interested in poetry, and I’ve always liked to draw. I thought, ‘Why don’t we work on something together?’” he recalled. “Rosalie was all for it.”

They spent the next few days brainstorming what the book should be about, and they eventually agreed that an A-to-Z children’s book on birds would be both fun and educational. With nearly 10,000 bird species to choose from, this father-daughter team had their work cut out for them. So, they set up some parameters. “We agreed that the birds in our book—A is for Albatross: Birds A–Z —should be both unique and aesthetically pleasing,” he said.

robin-rosalie-chiangRobin drew each of the 26 birds, using 19th century paintings by naturalist John James Audubon and other artists as a guide. He also helped with research and edited the final copy. Rosalie wrote the text—poetic tributes to each bird’s distinctive traits—and painted the birds and the background with watercolor. The entire process—from conception, draft, and revision to self-publishing on Amazon’s CreateSpace—took a year. The book is now available in print, and earlier this month, Lab employees had a chance to meet these first-time authors at the Holiday Fair, where they held a book signing.

They had such a rewarding experience with A is for Albatross that they plan to work on an A-to-Z about freshwater fish this holiday shutdown. “I think it’s good for kids to have tangible results after they’ve worked on something,” Robin observed. “Working on A is for Albatross was a fun way for me to do something productive with my daughter. And now she can say she’s published a book.”

By Theresa Duque