About the Author

My real love for teaching came from my elementary school students. They are part of a generation that sees that the world is bigger than just them, and they are prepared to work to change what they don't like about it.

Marie-Paule Mahoney
2 Marie-P and Finnegan. photo 1 jpeg
The story of

Marie-Paule Mahoney

I was born and grew up in Brittany, on the west coast of France. As the newly married wife of a veterinarian working in poet Robert Burns’ country in Scotland, I taught French at a local high school. Sometimes accompanying him on calls to nearby farms, I was introduced to an array of orphaned lambs, litters of piglets, puppies, and kittens, as well as cattle, draft horses, and a miscellany of adult cats and dogs. After a decade, the family moved to Oregon, and a few years later, to the foothills of New York State which became our permanent home. There, I became acquainted with baby primates in need of special care that my husband would occasionally bring home from work for the night.

I taught French at a Waldorf School, in Rockland County, New York for over 20 years, as well as at the State University of New York. My professional career includes the publication of The French Connection and as a co-author of En Français.     When I retired from teaching, I began to take a greater interest in nature and wildlife, and I started to write children’s  fiction stories about animals based on facts. The first book, Molly and Babou was written with my husband. Later, I wrote Coco, Whale of Wonder and Orcas Forever.

An Interview with the Author


It was a process that took many years to develop. For over 23 years, I taught French for grades 1 to 12 in a Waldorf School, in Rockland County, New York. This worldwide network of schools is special in that text books are not used for grades 1 to 8, which requires teachers to create their own material. So, I wrote short stories in French to entice the children to develop a liking for the language. Having lived there for the first 30 years of my life, I hoped my stories would help my students get a better understanding of life in France, and the French people. When I retired from teaching, I began to take a greater interest in nature and wildlife, and I started to write children’s fiction stories—the first was with my husband, a veterinarian, who had written two non-fiction books about his work mainly with non-human primates. I feel that teaching French and writing stories have the same goal: opening windows to the world. 

I find myself returning to the French classics—Albert Camus and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry—where the writing combines an enjoyment of natural beauty with a depth of thinking. I have been moved by Mary Oliver’s poems that brilliantly exposes the bonds between all living things. However, my greatest influence has been uncovering the magic of Shel Silverstein, an unforgettable writer and gifted illustrator.

I like to read online articles from major newspapers in different countries to get an idea of what’s happening in their nations. As a contrast, I also like to detach myself from reality, and let my mind wander to a visionary fantasy of the beautiful scenery of a natural world that has not been touched by humans. 

Although I have taught French courses for adults, my real love for teaching came from my elementary school students. They are part of a generation that sees that the world is bigger than just them, and they are prepared to work to change what they don’t like about it. Their inquisitiveness, and enthusiasm about everything (right or wrong) kept me on my toes physically and mentally. In every lesson, they would ask me was Notch keeps asking his mother, Tahlequah, in the book: “Why?” 

Back in 2018, I read a story in the media about an orca, J35 Tahlequah who gave birth to a female calf off the cost of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. The baby died shortly after birth due to emaciation. The mother carried her on her neck, swimming with the members of her pod for 17 days and covering 1,000 miles before releasing the body into the sea. “Why would she do that?” I wondered. The story touched my soul, sparked my imagination, and inspired me to learn more about whales and orcas. It led me to write a fiction picture book based on facts to expose issues of captivity, pollution and survival that the orcas face in the Salish Sea. 

I worked directly with the Outskirts Press Illustration Facilitator who, through email only, directed the communication and process between Ginger and me. Each illustration was based on a few sentences taken from the story that I would write in quotes. Additionally, I gave her more details to guide her, and sometimes added a photo. For example, I chose the illustration on page 27 of the book to be the main part of the front cover. In the background of the front cover is a photo of Mount Rainier taken from Puget Sound. Here are my notes to Ginger for that illustration:

Quote from the book: “Then together, they propelled themselves into a broad breach in the rolling waves. At a distance a few more orcas joined them. They arched their bodies as if they were dangling in the air.”

Additional details: Above the water –- Spectacular display of orcas breaching. The sea is rough. Close view of Tahlequah and her son breaching. At a distance, other orcas are also breaching. This illustration should try to convey the thought that Tahlequah has regained her joy for life.

I recently finished writing a story about a goldfish. It is a fiction picture book written with humor that lets a young child’s imagination wonder how love makes you jump over all barriers. I have also been following the next chapter of Tahlequah’s life, pondering where it will take her, and perhaps, me. At the end of the Afterword of Whale of Wonder, I mentioned that she had become pregnant again. A week after the book was published, she gave birth to a male calf who seems to be in good health. During their first year of life, approximately 40% of all calves die. The ten-month-old calf of today, has been spotted a few times rolling around on his mother’s back, apparently his favorite game, and playing with the younger orcas of the pod.

I was not a good student in school back in France, but I enjoyed learning about the country’s rich and colorful history that spans over 2,000 years from the Celts, to the actual Fifth Republic of today.

When I came to the US, I discovered cheesecake, a temptation that is still hard to resist!

I like the sight of snowcapped mountains, but I love the beauty of a coral reef under turquoise water.

I would like to live in Sark, one of the Channel Islands between the United Kingdom and France. Car-free, without street lights, teeming with wildlife, the island offers breathtaking scenery and a different pace of life.