I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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I SHIP + 5 Questions with #kidlit author Kelly Rice Schmitt + Bonus Book Pairing = Happy National Shipping Day!

March 5, 2024

In celebration of National Shipping Day (March 9th) we’ve invited debut author Kelly Rice Schmitt to the blog to chat about her picture book I SHIP: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey, illus. Jam Dong (Millbrook).

An NPR Science Friday 2023 Best STEM Book for Kids!

“This is bliss for any child who loves boats, for units on global transportation, or for anyone who has ever asked how this all works.”―School Library Journal

“An informative peek at our global infrastructure’s major lifeline.”

Kirkus Reviews

About the author:

Kelly Rice Schmitt is an author of STEAM children’s literature. I SHIP: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey is her debut picture book. She holds a B.B.A in Finance and Chinese from the University of Notre Dame and is an advocate for girls in STEM, business, and other fields with gender gaps. She can be found in North Carolina helping other traders grow their businesses, writing for children, and exploring, singing, and creating with her husband and young children.

Let’s ask some Questions!

Q 1. Do you live by a harbor?

KRS: Thank you for having me on your blog, Erin! While I didn’t grow up near container ships, I have lived near large bodies of water with boats my whole life. I began on Lake Michigan, then lived in Boston near the Atlantic, and now I see North Carolina’s largest man-made lake everyday.

Even though didn’t see many commercial ships growing up, for my first job, I tracked energy shipments around the world using computer programs and satellite imaging of ships. Whenever I would fly over large bodies of water, I’d watch all the ship in real life—my digital work world come to life! I drew inspiration from this to create what eventually became I SHIP.

National Shipping Day

Q 2. How might teachers use this book to celebrate National Shipping Day (March 9th)?

KRS: The free I SHIP teaching and activity guide as well as another post about lyrical STEM boat books you (Erin) and I did together over on Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw’s blog are great starters for fun shipping activities!

I may be biased, but I think I SHIP is the perfect book for National Shipping Day! I SHIP gives kids a peek into this fascinating world – the largest commercial vehicles on Earth carrying our everyday items around the world! And when we buy them at the grocery store or they arrive in a shipment at our doorstep, we don’t always stop to think about the journey these items took.

Supplying our world!

I hope that I SHIP can get kids thinking about that, and the lives of the vessels and sailors that make that possible.  The back matter and activity guide include a range of information about the pros and cons of container shipping, jobs in the industry and activities grouped by grade level including discussion questions on global trade, searching for international items in the classroom, container math, science experiments, figurative language, and coloring pages.

Interior spread by Jam Dong from
I SHIP: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey,
written by Kelly Rice Schmitt (Millbrook).


Q 3. What was your research process like? What discoveries did you make while researching/writing this story?

KRS: I have never been on a containership (though I would love to find an opportunity to go!).  Without that experience, I relied heavily on books and video footage from seafarers on YouTube. There is some amazing content out there from people that work at sea and use drones to capture their experiences.

Once the book was sold to Lerner, I reached out to U.S. Merchant Mariner Bryan Boyle (@bryanboyle on YouTube) and he offered to help me vet the book’s plot, language, and later, the art. We wanted to do justice to the incredible work these teams do to supply the world with 80-90% of globally traded items.

Q 4. Were there any surprises from the illustrator?

KRS: Yes! Jam Dong (@jam_childrensbooks on Instagram) did a fantastic job and constantly surprises us. A few favorites are how she incorporated an adorable real bird that Bryan had told me about and shared the bird’s photo! This hawk flew aboard their ship in Savannah, Georgia, USA and stayed with them all the way across the Atlantic to Europe!

Interior spread by Jam Dong from
I SHIP: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey,
written by Kelly Rice Schmitt (Millbrook).

KRS: Jam also hid a copy of I SHIP in one of the illustrations with the goods on board the ship. What fun!

Interior spread by Jam Dong from
I SHIP: A Container Ship’s Colossal Journey,
written by Kelly Rice Schmitt (Millbrook).

What’s next?

Q 5. What’s next for you? Anything you can share?

KRS: The second book in the Lerner series releases this fall I FUEL: HOW ENERGY POWERS OUR BUSY WORLD and I’m so excited to get kids talking about our energy now and the energy of the future!

Stay tuned for dinos, vehicles, oil formation and renewable energy! More books in the series are planned and I also have an unannounced book coming from Knopf as well.


To learn more about Kelly and her #STEAM projects,

check out her web site: kellyriceschmitt.com

and follow her on Social Media:

TwitterX @krschmittwrites

Instagram krschmittwrites

FB Author Kelly Rice Schmitt

Pinterest krschmittwrites/kids/

Bonus Book Pairing:

PS We think this book pairs perfectly with

Jeanne Walker Harvey’s BOATS ON THE BAY, Illus. Grady McFerrin / Cameron Kids!

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