Because of my background in teaching reading and science, I’m a fan of integrating science education, especially environmental science, with language arts. My three novels – Island Sting, Stakeout, and Tangled Lines – are realistic, contemporary eco-mysteries that pit young teens against environmental and human threats to wildlife.
Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson have written a turtle conservation picturebook that, within its short word count, is so much more. In Follow the Moon Home, the authors outline a detailed, scientific approach that young activists can use to address environmental and social problems, while laying out a great way to make new friends.
An especially wonderful book is Don’t Judge a Bird by its Feathers, by Tori Nighthawk. A picturebook for young readers, it is set in the rainforests of New Guinea. The illustrations are bright and bold, and the story carries a great message for kids. Best of all, it was written and illustrated by a young author, 13-year-old Tori Nighthawk.
(Guest Post by Cathleen Burnham) My family hired a small motor boat from the tiny port at Siquirres to a tinier landing at Parismina Island. We had come to the small island on the Caribbean Sea, on the east coast of Costa Rica, to learn about sea turtles and participate in the local turtle conservation program, including meeting the kids involved in patrolling the beaches, who called themselves the Tortuga Squad.
Tortuga Squad: Kids Saving Sea Turtles in Costa Rica, by Cathleen Burnham (Book 2 in the WAKA series), is about a group of kids in Costa Rica working to save baby turtles, patrolling the beach for poachers and rescuing eggs to incubate in a hatchery. On Parismina Island in Costa Rica, the “Tortuga Squad,” a group of youngsters, keep watch on the beach for new nests of sea turtle eggs. Like many places in the Caribbean and elsewhere, this island is a dangerous place for turtles. Here, the villagers have eaten turtle meat and eggs for generations. But many species are close to extinction. Poaching eggs and killing sea turtles for meat is now illegal on the island. But some people still do it. So the turtles need extra help. This is where the kids come in.