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An Eco Mystery
Red Flag Warning

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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Eco Detective

Eco Fiction for Tweens,Teens,Adults

Eco Fiction for Tweens, Teens, Adults and Librarians, Too

Eco Fiction Adventures of the Sizzling Six

Why do I write Eco fiction? What do I want readers to say when they refer to my books? I would be thrilled if they said that they love the way I weave the wonders of nature together with a strong conservation message. In particular, I focus my Eco Fiction on young people in the hope that my stories will inspire them to become wise conservationist, who will make a difference to our threatened ecosystems. Here are links to Eco fiction readers, writers, and books:

* Lauren James: Climate Fiction Writers League
* Lovis Geiger: You tube
* Mary Woodbury:

My Videos:
The Story Behind the Book Cover

Story Time with Claire Datnow

My Blogs:

Multicultural, Diverse, and Global Environmental Literature (School Library Journal)The Winds of Climate Change calling Authors of Children's Literature (Dragonfly.Eco)
The Winds of Change Blog blog SCWBI Spring Bulletin

YA/teen Eco Fiction

Cover Reveal Climate Change Eco Fiction

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

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:
Claire Datnow’s website:
Kristina’s Facebook Page:

The Mobile-Tensaw Delta: A Mysterious Wilderness

The Mobile-Tensaw Delta: A Mysterious Wilderness

A writer’s words vibrate to the changing tides of time, like leaves whispering in a gentle breeze, or whistling in gale, or roaring in a hurricane. The mounting death toll of Covid-19 plays on our emotions, evoking rage, horror, misery, and dread. Now more than ever, writers seek words to bring calm, delight, joy, and encouragement. For us, looking at pictures of our travels to fascinating places nearby and faraway, recalls happy memories and good feelings. So, I’m dedicating this blog about our trip to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, to you! (see Blog Eco Mysteries and Earth Day). And we’re dreaming about taking another trip to the delta when the pandemic, finally abates. Perhaps, you will join us.

Mobile River, Tensaw-Mobile Delta (Boris Datnow)

Eco Mysteries and Earth Day

Celebrate Environmental Literature in the Time of Covid-19

Coincidence or Serendipity? Three historic events this April have coincided with a personal event that's meaningful to me and, hopeful, to my reader. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the BP oil spill, the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Wow! What are the chances of that happening? Could this be the universe reminding me of my passion for writing eco mysteries is important and should continue? I might also mention the strange coincidence of our stateroom # 1918, on our recent cruise to Antarctica, which coincided with the Spanish flue epidemic—and hinted at the Covid-19 pandemic. By sheer luck, the virus missed us, but infected the passengers on the next cruise—but that is a tale for another blog.

Eco Mystery Nature Adventure

Calling All Explorers and Nature Lovers.

Look Closer

Would you like go on an amazing Eco Adventure to three Magical Kingdoms? You don’t need to buy a ticket or pack a suitcase. You don’t need a map to find your way to distant lands. All you need to bring along is your CURIOSITY. Use you curiosity to unlock the door to the Kingdom Animalia, the Kingdom of Plantae, and the Kingdom of Fungi, ruled by Mother Nature, the queen of all living things.
So, go ahead, turn the key in the lock! Go outside, and open you eyes and ears, and start searching. Here’s what to search for:

Sharing our Seas and Shores

Audubon Sharing Our Seas and Shores Conservation Strategy
Walker Golder, a biologist known for his outstanding achievements to conserve breeding waterbirds, was the honored speaker at the 69th Birmingham Audubon Annual Banquet sponsored by Protective Life Corporation. Golder’s fascinating, illustrated presentation focused on “Sharing our Seas and Shores in the Atlantic Flyway: A Model for Flyway Scale Bird Conservation.” Golder highlighted the importance of bird conservation across the flyway migration routes, and throughout the entire annual cycle of breeding, migration, and wintering. Stretching from the Arctic tundra of Baffin Island to the Caribbean, the Atlantic Flyway spans more than 3,000 miles. However, development and urban sprawl along the Atlantic Flyway threatens the feeding grounds along the flyway vital to the birds’ survival.
Shore birds
Coastal birds at Dauphin Island, Alabama (Boris Datnow)

Golder chronicled his quest to save the iconic, piping plover, an endangered and threatened species, that nests on coastal beaches and barrier islands in the US. Indeed, we’ve all been mesmerized by this lithe little shorebird—colored for camouflage against dry sand — dancing along the water’s edge, skittering in and out of the surf, probing into the wet sand in search of a tasty morsel, and then deftly spearing up.

Plovers Gulf SHores  jpg
Plovers in the Surf, Dauphin Island, Alabama (Boris Datnow)

The plovers’ wintering grounds remained a mystery until about five years ago. Golder co-lead the team of Audubon researchers that solved the mystery: the birds’ wintered in The Bahamas. This was a significant and exciting discovery. To protect an endangered species it is essential that conservationists pinpoint the location of the wintering grounds.
With the diligent work, the team of Audubon conservationists helped to spearhead an international conservation partnership that contributed to the August 2015 decision by the Bahamian government to establish the 114-acre Joulter Cays National Park. In fact, Joulter Cays is critical wintering habitat for 13 shorebird species. The National Audubon Team continues to band birds, to research, and to protect their habitats. This is a huge step forward—made more urgent by the threat of climate change.
Golder also emphasized the importance of inspiring locals, as well as visitors, to become protectors of the shorebirds. Instead of putting up negative warning signs, they had school children design posters asking people to SAVE OUR SHOREBIRDS. In addition, volunteers welcome visitors, and setup spotting scopes to observe the birds without disturbing them.
This clever approach struck a note with me. In my forth coming
Eco mystery on the Diamondback terrapins, I included a poster contest to help save the terrapins from drowning in crab traps.

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Poster Design by Ellie Usdan (6th Grader)

A native North Carolinian, Golder has devoted his 27-year career with Audubon to the protection of all birds, and particularly shorebirds in his home state and across the Atlantic Flyway.  He launched North Carolina’s Important Bird Areas program, and served leadership roles in the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative, American Oystercatcher Conservation Initiative, South Carolina Shorebird Project, and development of the Southeast Waterbird Conservation Plan. Fortunately, under Golder’s dynamic management Audubon’s North Carolina Coastal Islands Sanctuary System has grown to 21 sanctuaries that protect more than 25,000 nesting pairs of waterbirds and shorebirds, representing 35 percent of North Carolina’s waterbird population including some of the state’s most imperiled species.
Birmingham Audubon, in partnership with Mobile Bay Audubon, promotes bird conservation through the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey along Alabama’s coast.

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