Monadnock Profile: A career in anthropology leads to a retirement in children’s literature | Local News

The idea for Charles Norris-Brown’s children’s book was born in North India in 1999.

An anthropologist, Norris-Brown, 71, was visiting villages in the Terai, a large expanse of forest near the base of the Himalayas.

He was looking to do a research project about deforestation in the region, examining people’s impact on the ecosystem and why they were cutting down trees. He was particularly interested in what had become the a symbol of deforestation: the Bengal tiger, which was being increasingly threatened by agricultural development. He visited the people who lived there and interviewed them about these issues, as well as their relationship with the tiger.

“I asked some people there in the villages what they thought I could do to help save the tiger,” said Norris-Brown, of Bellows Falls. Keeping in mind his interest in conservation and the fact that he was an artist — he had brought his watercolors along on his journey — the villagers gave him some good advice.

“They said, ‘Why don’t you write a children’s book?’ ”

Nearly two decades later, after making several trips back to Asia and studying children’s book writing online through the Institute for Children’s Literature, Norris-Brown did it. His first children’s book, “Did Tiger Take the Rain?” was published last November. In addition to writing the book, he illustrated it using watercolors.

Norris-Brown, who is retired, has spent most of his life working as an anthropologist and studying people in Asia. He’s worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont in Burlington and the University of Pittsburgh, and his work took him to various countries, including India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Originally from Warren, Pa., he studied anthropology at Penn State in State College, Pa., and earned his Ph.D. in social…

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