Red Flag Warning

An Eco Adventure






Red Flag Warning

An Eco Adventure







Red Flag Warning is a middle grade ecological adventure based on the fires now exploding around the globe. The story is told through the eyes of three diverse teenagers brought together by devastating wildfires, and by a powerful gift—the ability to communicate with animals. Their animals save them from certain death during a race to outrun the flames roaring toward them. Aisyah a compassionate free spirit from Sumatra, bonds with Pongo an endangered orangutan. Kirri a competitive marathon runner from Australia, bonds with Rocky an endangered Rock wallaby. And then there’s Hector, a headstrong and gifted falconer from California, who bonds with Swain, a magnificent Swainson’s hawk. After their painful recovery from burns, the teens take on a new challenge, caring for animals injured in the fires. But the true test of their courage lies ahead. When they uncover an illegal wildlife trafficking scheme, they hatch a plot to catch the mysterious zoo keeper Dr. Gladys redhanded, thereby exposing themselves to danger; or should they allow the doctor to get away with a crime to prevent her from shutting down the orangutan wildlife center? Three lives, three paths, three stories. Can the eco heroes save the animals and the rainforest? Red Flag Warning explores environmental issues through the eyes and actions of brave teenagers with heartbreak and hope, hints of romance and magical realism.


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Reviews

With inspiring breadth and creative range, Datnow’s Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure, takes the reader on an exhilarating journey through Sumatra, Indonesia, the Kimberley of Western Australia, Northern California, and across the globe. Through the eyes of the teenage protagonists the story explores pressing environmental issues, as well as disabilities and bullying. Datnow doesn’t leave out moments of joy and delight. Red Flag Warning feeds our bodies as it fills our mind and spirit. The reader is treated to a Rijsttafel lunch: bowls of steamed rice, crispy fried soy beans, sautéed tapioca leaves, fish seasoned with wild ginger, chicken curry, and juicy mangosteens. Such shared international cuisine with friends makes us wish to savor such days forever—“like precious jewels.” Although the book is designated as a middle-grade adventure novel, it is a vade mecum that should be on every reader’s library shelf—every tween and teens—as well as adults, teachers and learners alike as three engaging teenagers experience devastating wildfires and suffer personal tragedies. As they learn to nurture the animals they care for, they are, in turn, saved by these very animals—bird and beast. —Sue Walker, Professor Emerita at the University of South Alabama, Poet Laureate of Alabama from 2003-2012, poet, literary critic, environmentalist, and publisher of Negative Capability Press.



Claire Datnow’s, Red Flag Warning, is an imaginative Eco adventure for middle school readers. The fast-paced book explores not only relevant ecological issues, but also the difficulties of adolescent character development. The book begins with three separate vignettes, introducing the main character—a teenager and the supporting character—and an endangered animal. First the reader travels to Sumatra and meets talented Aisyah who has a special bond with a rescued orangutan. Next Datnow takes the reader to western Australia where marathon runner Kirri has a similar bond with a wallaby. The third vignette focuses on Californian Hector and an injured Swainson’s hawk he is dedicated to rehabilitating. These diverse teens share not only a powerful bond with their rescued wild animal, but each teen becomes trapped in a devastating wildfire. The hero in the vignettes are the orangutan, wallaby and the hawk—each leading the grievously injured teen to safety. The teens struggle emotionally from disfiguring injuries suffered during the fire, nevertheless each engages in efforts to heal their local environment and prevent further disasters. The fires, ultimately manmade, serve as a backdrop to address environmental concerns including forest clear cutting, loss of habitat with commensurate loss of biodiversity, and climate change. A twist in the story brings the three teens together virtually, sharing support for each other, and further empowering them to overcome personal adversity while spurring them to pursue environmental justice and conservation. The book is skillfully packed with metaphors which will no doubt foster discussions from many angles. Suggested magical abilities and flights of fancy will fire imaginations. I found Claire Datnow’s Red Flag Warning provides a sobering, yet heartwarming read which ultimately instills hope for the planet’s future especially if young (and old) readers emulate the characters’ remarkable passion for healing the environment. —Dr. Maggie Amsler, researcher in the Department of Biology, has completed 500 Antarctic research scuba dives. She researches the Antarctic’s chemical ecology, ocean acidification, and krill. The 2020 expedition marks her 29th trip to Antarctica since January 1980. An island in the Antarctic has been named in her honor.


I loved traveling the world from Indonesia, to Northern California, and to Western Australia. Datnow’s descriptive detail of the geography and culture immersed me in the challenges the characters were facing. In schools, teachers are implementing STEM skills across the curriculum and the Eco heroes in the story, Aisyah, Kirri, and Hector, use their skills to solve environmental problems in their own communities. The three continually collaborate, communicate, and problem solve to overcome adversity. Datnow has created role models for students to emulate. Questions that the Eco heroes ask will encourage the readers to draw their own conclusions and spark classroom conversations. In turn, this will lead to further research about climate change and what can be done here in the United States and around the world. —Kimberly Murray, Science Resource Teacher, Munford Schools, Alabama, Chair of Leadership Team, Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA)


In Red Flag Warning Claire Datnow has written an uncommon kind of YA novel. It’s not just that it’s a work of “eco-fiction.” It’s not just that she weaves scientific ideas seamlessly into her narrative. It’s not just that science and magical realism (one of the characters telecommunicates with an orangutan) appear together in the novel. It’s not just that through three young protagonists we’re exposed to three different countries, their environments and their cultures. It’s not just that Mrs. Datnow’s characters care as much about animals and the environment as they care for homo sapiens. The novel contains all of these ideas, themes and characters. The striking achievement of this novel, at least to this reader, is Claire Datnow’s ability to include and combine these and other separate and sometimes disparate ideas into one short novel, and also in the end, to produce a book that easily can be categorized as educational and a “good read.” —Carl Schinasi , retired professor, English literature


Author Claire Datnow has packed her YA novel, RED FLAG WARNING, with a compelling story and both serious ecological and emotional issues. Her passion for these issues comes through on every page as the reader travels the globe, dealing with deforestation, fires, habitat loss, and other effects of climate change, as well as bullying, isolation, and the effects of life-changing burns. But as much as one comes to learn about all that these teens face, including the threats to the endangered species associated with each character, Datnow's superlative gift with words makes all these places around the globe come to life; I felt as if I could smell the fires, taste the unique regional foods, and hear the raucous cries of birds and orangutans.And though all the teens have hardships to face and stories to tell, I was especially drawn to the Sumatran orangutans and the magical realism element. But if you want to know more...about Pongo, about true beauty, about the dangers our earth is facing every day, read it yourself! Truly, RED FLAG WARNING is the kind of book that informs and inspires not only kids but every reader to go out and change the world. -Cathy Hall, author

Datnow, a former creative writing teacher and native of South Africa, demonstrates her passion for ecology on every page through descriptions of creature care and feeding, maps of each area featured in the story . . . A guide at the end of the book points interested readers toward more resources from NASA and Cornell University as well as the United States government. The tale is educational but not condescending to its middle-grade audience. A pleasant read ... (Kirkus Review)

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