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Monarch Mysteries


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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Environmental Fiction

The Last Whaling Station


The Last Whaling Station Point San Pueblo California

Whaling Station San Pueblo
A Visit to the Setting of the Story

Reality met the setting I imagined on my trip to the Last Whaling in the US, San Pueblo Point, East Bay California. This is an excerpt from The Gray Whale's Lament after my trip.


Chapter 8. The Last Whaling Station

They drove on the freeway through heavy traffic and then across the long, roller coaster-like San Rafael Bridge. Nearing their destination at Point Molate Naval Base, they passed an old air raid shelter with castle-like brown brick walls covered in vines.
Searching the internet Sarah exclaimed, “Mom, this is so interesting . . . did you know that Native Americans fished right here for centuries, and that in the late 1800s it was a Chinese shrimp camp?”
“I knew about the shrimp camp and of course there were native Americans living here long before us. Their ancestors still live around this place. If we dig in the earth we might find shards of their pottery, the shells of the mussels, and the bones fish they ate.”
“Ooh, that gives me goose bumps.” Sarah shivered.
At Point San Pablo, the road had been blocked by security guards, so they turned right at a fork, winding around a hill. Noticing that her mother was clutching the steering wheel so tightly her knuckles were white, Sarah asked, “Mom, what’s wrong?”
“This is where your Grandmother Rose took the picture of the whaling station,” she replied.
       “Stop, Mom! I want to take a picture at this spot,” Sarah said.
Bumping off the road, they parked on a grassy shoulder. Then the two hiked to the top of the hill.
“Is that where the whales were killed?” Sarah asked, pointing across the bay.
“Yes.” Her mother sighed. Standing shoulder to shoulder they listened to the wind rustling through the golden, dry grass at their feet. The wind picked up, flattening the grass, and howling across the waves.
Sarah shivered. “It sounds like the ghosts of long ago still haunt this place.”
Her mother squeezed her hand. “It’s okay to remember the past,” she said, dabbing away tears. “Even upsetting memories can motivate you to do something worthwhile.”
Sarah began snapping pictures. “Still, it’s peaceful here. It’s hard to believe this bay was home to the last active whaling station where whales were slaughtered in the US.”

***



Crocdile San Pueblo Whalin Station
Ramp for Dragging whales into the Whaling Station

Finally, they pulled into the parking lot, hidden around a bend at the end of the road, at Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor.
       With the Chummy at her heels and binoculars in hand, Sarah tumbled out of the car. Pulling out her mobile phone, she snapped photos of houseboats, and floating homes that lined the bay.

Richmond Boat Houes
Houseboats San Pueblo Point, East Bay California

She couldn’t resist taking a picture of the funky, oversized sculpture of an alligator with jaws wide open.

Crocodile San Pueblo Point Ca
Oversized Sculpture of an Alligator, San Pueblo Hatch Club

Even the historic old shacks and rusting machinery made interesting pictures. As they walked by, the harbor master waved and called out, “Don’t forget to visit the farm with goats and order something to eat at the restaurant.”
       They came to the pebbly beach where a sign that read: OK for launching kayaks, canoes, etc. Chummy trotted along the beach stopping to sniff at invisible scents. Her mother rubbed her forehead, “It’s changed since I was here years ago.”
“I can’t see the old whaling station,” Sarah said, looking through her binoculars.
“We need to drive to the North side of the point where we can see across the bay to the remains of the whaling station.”
They got back in the car and within minutes they arrived at the point. Chummy leapt out of the car and began to bark, “Be quiet!” Sarah command her dog to stop him from barking at the elephant seals rumbling contentedly while sunning themselves on the rocks. She could make see the blackened wooden posts, which had supported the pier and the gangplank up to the factory. Her mother had been right, there was nothing to tell of the horror that had happened here. No witness to how ruthlessly the whales had been slaughtered.


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Chocking back curse words she hissed, “Nasty, stupid—.”
       Just then Chummy began yipping. She turned and saw her dog digging furiously at something half-buried in the sand.
       “Chummy, come here,” Sarah called. The dog raced toward her, then turned back to continue digging, sending sand flying.

       “What have you got there, boy?” Sarah strode over to Chummy. It appeared to be blue plastic bottle cap sticking out of the sand. Getting down on her knees, she rocked the bottle loose. She brushed off the sand she held it up to the light. It was an ordinary plastic water bottle with a roll of paper inside. There was also a plastic bag with something tiny curled inside. Peering more closely she could make out what appeared to be tiny black eye in a white face and a curled body. The image of the fetus in her dream flared in her mind. She dropped the bottle as if it were a scorpion readying to sting her.
    “Calm down. It’s just a bottle with a plastic bag and some junk inside it. Nothing to be afraid of.”
       “What is it?” Sarah asked, her breath catching in her throat.
       “I can’t tell for sure,” her mother said. “Maybe it’s a message or treasure from a castaway pirate stranded on a deserted tropical island,” her mother joked.
       “Right, and we should row over to save him right now,” Sarah said, brushing off the sand clinging to Chummy.





Emerging Genre of Climate Fiction

The Emerging Genre of Climate Fiction

Why do I write Climate Fiction?

The gale force winds of climate change are calling. They’re calling to scientists, writers, and artists to weave stories that will inspire the citizens of tomorrow to dream up a brighter future.

CliFi Claire Datnow
Photo credit Boris Datnow
Understanding the impact of climate change is an essential step toward preparing ourselves to become knowledgeable, active, and just stewards of our state’s and our planet’s natural environment adversely impacted by climate change. I do not sugar coat the truth but, hopefully, my stories inspire kids to feel hope and to take action for the future.

Eco fiction can be as diverse as our natural world, and impact all kinds of communities and families. It is multicultural, diverse, Gobal—and with animals too.

“Because It’s real . . . It’s Us . . . There’s Hope.”

 Red Flag cover 1:26   copy

I do not sugar coat the truth but my stories inspire kids to take action for the future.

Cli-Fi is teaching us about the world as we NEED TO SEE IT: a planet in the GRIP of a climate crisis.” Theodora Sutcliffe

Eco fiction can be as diverse as our natural world, and impact all kinds of communities and families. It is multicultural, diverse, Gobal—and with animals too.



My Book Recommendations:

Fiction (for the Young at Heart)
Midnight Zoo by Sonya Harnett
The Zoo at the Edge of the world Eric Kahn Gale
the Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
The Thing About Jelly Fish by Ali Benjamin
Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta
The Summer Book by Tova Jannsson

Adult Fiction:
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
The Overstay by Richard Powers
Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
Dune by Frank Herbert
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Bearskins by Annie Proulx
Memory of Water by Emma Itaranta
Arctic by Kim Stanley Robinson
Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh


NonFiction:

Naturalist E.O. Wilson (a memoir)
The Big Burn by Timothy Egan
Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen (memoir)
The World in a Whale by Rebecca Giggs
How to Change everything by Naomi Klein
Miseducation: How Climate Change is taught in America by Katie Worth

Links to Websites with Book Recommendations.
https://writersrebel.com/category/read/page/2/

https://ashlandcreekpress.com/books/

https://climate-fiction.org. (Climate Fiction Writers League)

https://dragonfly.eco/indie-corner-claire-datnow/
https://dragonfly.eco/the-winds-of-change-childrens-environmental-climate-fiction/
https://dragonfly.eco/dragonfly-library/
https://mediamint.net/page7/files/Climate%20Change%20Fiction%20for%20Kids.html
https://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2021/03/climate-change-fiction-multicultural-diverse-global-and-with-animals-too-a-guest-blog-by-author-claire-datnow/

Videos:
You can view the video of the Climate Change Panel presentation at the Environmental Education Association of Alabama, February 2022 on YouTube at:  
https://youtu.be/Pa5aJQ4T2Fw

















Science and Nature Writing


Environmental Literature Illuminates Our Connection to Nature

The storm winds of climate change are calling. They’re calling to scientists, and writers, and artists to weave stories that will inspire the children of tomorrow to dream up a brighter future. Happily, they are responding to that call with a spate of new nature and environmental stories that use science as a springboard to create powerful children’s literature.
 Red Flag cover 1:26   copy Read More...

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) Read More...

How to Become a Citizen Scientist

Citizen Science Projects

When I began researching and writing my eco mystery series, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six, I did not fully anticipate the number of dedicated environmentalist I would meet along the way. I did not anticipate that I would encounter inspired and determined conservationists from all walks of life finding ways to protect the rich biodiversity of our state. Nor did I realize that had taken the first step toward becoming a citizen scientist.

Book Cover Piping Plover Eco Mystery

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Piping Plover Conservation

Search for the Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus)

Book Cover Piping Plover Eco Mystery


The inspiration for the eighth Eco mystery in the series,
The Adventures of the Sizzling Six:The Case of the Missing Piping Plovers began with Walker Golder’s presentation to the Birmingham Audubon Society. Golder is the National Audubon Society’s director of Audubon’s Atlantic Flyway Coast Initiative. His compelling account of the search for the Piping plover’s wintering hot spot on the remote Joulter Cays launched my own journey to write The Case of the Missing Piping Plovers.

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Butterfly Awareness Botanical Gardens


Butterfly Education and Awareness Day

Monarch Butterfly (Poster created by Ellie Usadan)
Kids Enjoyed Coloring the Poster Created by Ellie Usdan

We were delighted to join the
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, on a perfect summer day, to celebrate Butterfly Education and Awareness Day, and also to share the newest book in the eco mystery series for middle grades, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (book 6 in the series).
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Green Ribbon Schools Award

Alabama Green Ribbon Schools
On a day filled with sunshine, it was my pleasure and privilege to attend the celebration recognizing the three schools and a university as Alabama Green Ribbon Schools Award Winners for 2015.

Green Ribbon Shirely Farrell
Shirley Farrell, State Dept. of Education, with Liz Ellerson of E.A.T. South (Boris Datnow)

Congratulations to the winners:
Auburn University
Bluff Park Elementary School, Hoover City Schools 
Lincoln Elementary School, Talladega County Schools
Lincoln High School, Talladega County Schools Read More...

Connecting to Nature with Apps

Green Apps for Outdoor Classroom Adventures

If you are an environmental educator — teacher, nature guide, or parent— you will find this lesson plan,
Eco Detective Nature Hunt, exciting. In my Eco Mystery series, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six, six feisty teens solve an intriguing eco mystery in order to save an endangered species. Now students can create their own eco mysteries with the new “green” apps. These inspire kids to go outside and observe nature closely. In other words, outside time and screen time do not have to be mutually exclusive. Instead of battling to keep kids away from gadgets, why not use technology to encourage kids to explore outdoors? In this blog I outline a way to use nature-based apps that enhance kids’ experience outdoors, and then arouse their curiosity to learn more through reading and research. 

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Environmental Project Based Learning

How to Launch Environmental Project Based Learning

1. LAUNCH PARTY. To arouse the students’ curiosity, plan the event to be novel and dramatic. Design a presentation that encourages students to generate questions that plunge them into an intriguing ecological mystery that they must solve in order to help save an endangered species. You could invite an author of eco mysteries or non-fiction books with environmental themes. For example, for my school presentation I dress up as Mrs. Margarita Mariposa, a character in The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (Book Six). I wear a striking mask with flowers and butterflies, and send
paper monarch butterflies into the air. 

Mexico in Birmingham
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