According to a recent U.N. release , one million animals and plants are threatened with extinction, perhaps in the next few decades. Our children and grandchildren are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of these changes.
But how, as a society, do we even begin to talk about this subject? The facts are so daunting that few adults, let alone children, will be able to wrap their heads around what it will mean to lose so many links in the food chain.
When people hear these types of reports it is easy to feel defeated. "We have passed the tipping point," they might say. That sense of helplessness is enough to send a child to some mindless video game, rather than consider a way to turn things around.
Eva Pell, former Undersecretary for Science at the Smithsonian, Emeritus Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Penn State University, and internationally known environmental plant biologist, is tackling this difficult topic. Pell believes children need to be empowered to make a difference. In that spirit she has penned, and is launching, a series of middle-grade adventure novels focused on rescuing endangered species.
The ResQ series, published by Tumblehome, Inc, features Stowe, a 12 year-old naturalist and competitive athlete, her 11 year-old cousin Wheaton, who already has a B.S. in Material Science and Engineering, and their grandmother a wildlife photographer. Each book in the series will focus on the plight of an endangered species through the perils facing individual animals. The stories are framed in the species home ranges. In this series, it is not the adults but rather the kids who are identifying the problems and coming up with strategies for the rescues--enabled by futuristic material science-inspired inventions. The fictional adventures are paired with intriguing factual logs that Stowe writes, which provide the reader with the scientific, geographic and cultural background to support each story.
The first book of the series, "ResQ and the Baby Orangutan," is launching at the National Zoo on September 14, 2019. In this book a mother orangutan has been shot and her baby snatched. The ResQ team sets off for the Borneo rainforest to find the lost baby. Together with an Indonesian teen, they venture into the rainforest where they must overcome obstacles that bring the endangerment of this species into stark relief.
Kathryn Fuller, President Emerita of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reviewed the book and noted: "How often does a book accurately introduce young readers to the biology of endangered species and tropical forests, to engineering, and to a different language and culture and at the same time feature high adventure and fantastic inventions? Eva Pell brings the thorough research skills and care for detail of a scientist to an exciting and engaging tale of baby orangutan ResQ."
The author hopes that this series will engage and empower children. She also believes that the books can be tools for teachers and parents as they talk about the scale and complexity of the problems of extinctions, and the strategies that might be useful in tackling them.
These books can be a platform to start a conversation. Once ResQ and the Baby Orangutan is launched, Pell will be speaking with children and adults about this timely and complex subject.
The book will be available for purchase on September 14, 2019.