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Available February 2021

An Eco Mystery
Red Flag Warning





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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Eco adventure

YA/teen Eco Fiction


Cover Reveal Climate Change Eco Fiction

Interview by Teresa K. Thorne with Kristina Handler, Illustrator, and Claire Datnow, Author


Red Flag Warning Cover Reveal


Teresa: Red Flag Warning: An Eco Adventure tells the dramatic story of three special young people from across the world, the amazing animals that are part of their lives, and the terrible threats they face—threats that affect the entire world. The three teens, all scarred by fire, struggle with the deeper wounds to their self-image and dreams. They must learn to respect the wildness of the animals they love and find their own voices, along with the power of community, in their mission to heal the Earth.

The Story Behind The Cover (Video Interview)


Kristina, could you walk us through the early sketches you made of ideas for the cover.
Kristina: Claire and I discussed the idea of her book's characters circling around a tree, similar to the Christmas card, but the image of Aiysha's eye and her half face was already in my mind before Claire suggested the tree circled with the three characters. I quickly scribbled what was in my head made a rough sketch of Aisyah with flames reflected in her eyes. I was a bit worried it was too rough and after discussing the idea, we decided to try to show all three characters on the front cover with their animal guides. Here's the first sketch, I liked it, but wanted to check with Claire to be sure this was what she wanted. I intended to put the flames in all the eyes and put the 4th character on the back cover. Claire didn't connect with this drawing, so I never completed it. Claire decided that she really liked the first sketch of Aisyah’s face best. I drew several sketches before Claire selected the one that matched the image of Aisyah she had in her head. And here is the beginning of the final drawing for the cover.

Teresa: That was fascinating, Kristina. So what inspired this final image?
Kristina: I have always loved clues in art, literature, and music. Hidden meanings that add depth to a creation delight me. I find when a small hint of information is packed with a huge story, it is more powerful and stimulating to the imagination. I often see worlds in things like a keyhole, a dew drop, the surface of a puddle, or in a window pane. So a reflection of fiery flames, the main point to the story, held in an eye seemed perfect to me. At first, I was thinking of an up close eye. But then I decided that image was too "in your face". After thinking about it, the idea of half the face came to mind. I like that better, because it's half the story and that's better for intrigue. Initially, I cringed to draw the burns and scars until I realized if that side of her face could be on the back cover, then it could be very enticing to a curious reader. I find too much information dilutes interest. My goal was to tantalize one into opening and reading the book.

Teresa: Claire, what ran through your mind and heart the first time you saw Kristina’s cover for Red Flag Warning?
Claire: So much of my journey with this story was like hiking through a dense forest and discovering untravelled paths to explore and intriguing characters to get know. The very first “scribble” for the cover Kristina sent made my heart leap with the thrill of recognition. Her rendering of Aisyah with flames in her eyes captured her calm beauty, but also the terror of a being trapped in a wildfire. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but like the black figures racing through the palm oil plantation, the three protagonists Aisyah, Hector, and Kirri are trapped in a wildfire. The wildfire changes their lives and launches them into a quest to heal themselves, and save the animals they love, and forests that they live in.

Teresa: Claire, finish this sentence: I was
inspired to write Red Flag Warning by . . .
Claire: by the unprecedented wildfires exploding around the world are real and their devastating consequences, which will continue to be felt for decades to come. Aisyah, Kirri, and Hector’s world is thrown into chaos when thy barely escape wildfires. I decided to add a touch of magical realism to the story with the animals because I wanted to bring home the way in which animals and people are connected to one another and to the earth on which all life depends. Also, when I was kid growing up in that magical land of Johannesburg, South Africa, I loved imagining and dreaming about the adventures I’d have traveling around the world— and, eventually, I did—so, my experiences of different people and their cultures on my travels are reflected in this. And I was also inspired by the determination of real life young Eco heroes who are making a difference and urging the grown up to save our planet.


Teresa: Claire, so that’s another reason is you chose three characters living in different countries to tell their stories?

Claire: That’s right, Teresa. Aisyah is Sumatran, Kirri is an Aboriginal of Australia, and Hector is Hispanic and traces his lineage to the Native American Otomi people of Mexico. I love they way they three bond and become good friends as a result of injuries from a wildfire.
Teresa: Claire, please finish the following sentence starter: Pongo and Aisyah, Kirri and Bultarro, and Hector and Swain save one another because ….
Claire: . . . because of their deep love and compassion for one another.
Teresa: That is so beautiful Claire.

Teresa: Kristina, Climate change is a serious reality. How did you handle this difficult theme and yet leave the reader with a sense of hope?
Response Kristina: I was worried that my idea for the book cover was too serious for the level reader, but let me say, this is a very serious reality on our planet! If the truth is sugarcoated or ignored, we are doing a disservice to our children and the planet. This isn't just an exciting and fun book to read. With all that being said, I gave Aiysha two sides to her face, the side on the front cover is her hopeful and bright side, while the half of her face on the back cover reveals her inner struggle. I wanted her face to carry both sides of the story and show she is still a beautiful and whole person. I drew the integration of struggle and hope into her face. Slide 14
Teresa: Claire, how did you handle this difficult theme and yet leave the reader with a sense of hope?
Claire: Science-based solutions are the key to hope for the future. I weaved scientific knowledge into the story to create hopeful but realistic ending to my story rather than gloomy or magical fairytale ones.
Teresa: And I appreciate the scientific information you weaved so neatly into the story, Claire. I highly recommend this fascinating book to all—it’s entertaining and you’ll be the wiser when you close the last page.

For more information please visit:
Teresa Thorne’s website:
https://tkthorne.com
Claire Datnow’s website: https://mediamint.net
Kristina’s Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/musicstoriesandart