Song of the Blue Whale is an educational picture book that teaches readers about whaling and ocean pollution. Why is this an important topic for you?
The blue whale is the largest animal on Earth. This magnificent, gentle giant is an endangered species due to the ill effects of avoidable human behaviour. There may come a time when these beautiful creatures will only exist in photographs, video footage or on the pages of books. If properly educated, informed future generations can avert such a tragedy.
I loved the art in this book, especially the pictures of whales under the ocean. What is your favorite picture from the book?
In this volume, I included cameos of two characters from other books in the series. We see Mattie Boombalatty picking up rubbish from a beach with her mother. However, my favourite illustration features Shelly, the leatherback sea turtle with a purple heart painted on her shell. The double-page spread shows the beauty of a tropical coral reef spoiled by discarded tin cans, surgical masks, nets, plastic straws and bags. Shelly is coming to the aid of a companion trapped in a plastic bag. As well as colourful seahorses and tropical fish, we see two curious dolphins. It’s a powerful image that forces older children to think about how we deal with rubbish and how it may affect other animals.
What is a simple step someone could take to help reduce ocean pollution?
Using less expendable plastic and recycling as much of the plastics we do use can dramatically reduce pollution in rivers, lakes, oceans and seas.
Do you plan to write more books on these same topics?
There is a total of seven books in my series of illustrated children’s books. These appear in an anthology titled Wayne Gerard Trotman’s Rhyming Stories, introduced by the poet and novelist Dr. Benjamin Zephaniah. I also co-wrote Believe in Fairies with my wife, Sherrie. Several species of wildflowers have disappeared from the English countryside. This rhyming fairy tale introduces children and their parents to the various types that still exist and encourages them to plant wildflower gardens.
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Chaos in the Cosmos is a children’s fantasy book that illustrates climate’s impact on Earth how we should respect nature. What were some sources that informed this book’s development?
Our greatest power, gifted to us all, is that of respect, not only to each other but also respect to the very precious globe we call Earth … the very ground we tread on daily throughout our lives.
So many adults around our world have not, seemingly, learned this concept of respect, preferring to remain on the side of inattention and inaction, and possibly of ignorance, wishing to demonstrate their power in a different way.
If, we as adults, fail to develop an awareness, how are the young minds of our children to be given the opportunity to fully understand worldly problems?
How are they going to take a grip on some of the more complex problematic world events, and even fully concern themselves with what certain threats will bring in the future years ahead?
How can young children be shown the best path forward to serve our planet and each other with the much-desired respect required?
If we take literature as a tool of learning, how best do children enjoy their learning?
I believe that for generations, children’s literature has formed memorable concepts in children’s minds, and has not always succeeded in the form of serious literature, but sometimes concepts can emerge from reading Fantasy stories of a light-hearted nature with a ring of desired fun to them.
In fact, that is precisely the effect I aimed for within the pages of ‘Chaos in the Cosmos.’ A light fast-paced story form, a story to giggle over and have fun with. A tale to hopefully bring together how the abuse of power, when used with inconsideration, can even rapidly destroy our world as we know it.
So, behind the lighter read is a thought process.
How do we answer our problems on Planet Earth?
Can the planet really suffer from something called Global Warming?
What is it? Why? How? When? So, what must each of us learn to do to play our part?
Here we are in 2021, in the middle of a Global Pandemic, which has scared kids and adults, kept children isolated indoors, not allowed them peer play. They have endured loss…possibly of close family members, grandparents, siblings, and even parents maybe. The cultural riches we all took for granted have been denied us… no parties, services, and so on. And so in the middle of this world’s ill health, there emerges chaos. Thus these are the days we are living through.
Plus we have a further world event crisis of Global Warming evolving on a daily basis.
Another real feature to our present-day is our discovery and probing of the Red Planet, Mars.
The section of the Mars visit is part of the adventure to learning, and it can be a matter of trend and future development within the classroom, as in the same way Global Warming can become a topic in its own right. I advise anyone who is searching for more suggestions for group discussions to enter Magic Islands via my web address at
https://cgofwales.co.uk for worksheet and pointers.
I have listed many ideas class teachers and parents can discuss with children. The discussions will bring out serious and fun issues in relation to the second book, Chaos in the Cosmos, from rights, wrongs and values, facts and fiction, questions and answers, tolerance and intolerance, the use of power, the funny, ridiculous, dangerous, imaginary. The need to separate fantasy from truths. The story can be used as a foothold …a matchlight to ignite the burning issues surrounding environmental and personal awareness. So if required it can become a tool from which laughter and mainstream learning can evolve.
This seemed like it was a very fun book to write. What was your favorite scene to write for?
One could say ‘Chaos in the Cosmos’ chose its time to be born, but, yes, it emerged during a time of grief and sadness, and therefore needed to sparkle in a comic way to lift the mood of the day.
In contrast to ‘Magic Islands, Book One’ where the magical powers of the Purple Wizards demonstrated an evil in them, a fearsome greed, whereby they wanted to achieve everything for themselves without respect for anyone or anything thing else. In Book Two, ‘Chaos in the Cosmos,’ I have tried to illustrate the other side of the Purple Wizards characters. I needed the story to show they were stupid, foolish, ignorant, lacking understanding or knowledge, and no better than a bunch of fools. If one gives power to foolishness, even if it is based on magical power, are fools ever really going to use their given powers with any respect?
The fun is found in words and deeds. These characters are now seen as the ‘Goons’ or ‘Mindless’ who follow and mimic their crazy leader, Izzy Odorous.
Perhaps, the Wizards’ depiction is both overwhelming and annoying. Characters with such silly behavioral patterns would be, I agree. It may be said that only a fool would deliberately be proactive towards leading the planet towards the extinction of its species.
So, now we understand a little more about the spectrum of the personalities of the Purple Wizards
Moving from the Purple Wizards, I enjoyed writing about the Baby Hook-Eyed Monster, Scratchit, who, as you say, becomes Stefan’s secret and whose lack of magical knowledge leads both Stefan and Megan on a terrifying journey to the Magic Islands. It is, in fact, Scratchit who raises the alarm of the heating seas, when he reports to the children that Global Warming is destroying the sea creatures and all marine life. I reckon children will love baby Scratchit.
I enjoyed writing this fun book for children, mainly because I knew there was a gap in the market, and a lack of light reading material on the subject for 7/8-11 years.
This book explores climate and nature in an interesting and engaging way. Why do you think this is important for children to learn?
Our world is changing rapidly. Young children are moving forward into a new era. It is important that they become aware of what their future will bring. If children are to grow and live in a future clean environment during their lifetime, the work towards that awareness must start now…Today.
Will you continue your Magic Islands stories in a third book?
The third book ‘The Kingdom of Now and Then’ continues with an invitation into a world of extinction where we will meet the once extinct and imaginary beasts as they jump off the pages of storybooks, legends, and the time of ‘Then.’ The Purple Wizards and the children are still involved in the magic of it all. In this book, there are more sides to the personality spectrum of the wizards as they try to adapt to a different vision. #amwriting.
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Skyseed follows a group of people who set out to save the planet from a man-made climate disaster. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
The idea of using tech as a quick fix for the climate crisis is attracting growing support and credence, despite the fact that it is hugely expensive, environmentally damaging, and potentially dangerous. I wanted to write a story that was primarily a good yarn, but which also provided a timely and salutary warning about the dangers of so-called geoengineering.
Jane is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
There are plenty of great female researchers in the geological sciences, including in my own field of volcanology, and I wanted to reflect this in the book. Geology is not all machismo, and female scientists make hugely important contributions, often while juggling family and work, so Jane is based upon an amalgam of a number of friends and colleagues I have known over the years.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
There are quite a few themes hidden away – some perhaps not so hidden. As I mentioned earlier, geoengineering and its associated dangers, is the big one. But I have to admit that there is also an anti-capitalist strand running through the story, together with digs at neocolonialism and the way in which those in power find it impossible to resist acting in an underhand way, then fail to be open about how bad things are when everything goes pear-shaped. In the UK, we have seen this recently in relation to how the government mishandled both Brexit and the pandemic.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
A sequel to Skyseed is always possible. I have left a small chink of light at the end of the story to allow this, but we shall see. Currently, I am working on a young adult project about an Earth upon which not all dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. Some survived so that today, their intelligent, bipedal, descendents have built a dominant civilisation that reigns over us humans. But change is on the way…
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Sky Seed by Bill McGuire transcends genres. It starts as a mystery with light espionage and ends as a dystopian near future novel. There are three main protagonists, but several chapters are written from the perspectives of side characters as well. The book starts with an enormous eruption that sends ash spewing into the air. Months later, Jane discovers a terrible secret exacerbated by that explosion. There are small, perfectly spherical, carbon-shelled objects floating in the air and raining from the sky. Jane has to tell someone, anyone. She sends her findings to a colleague. The next day someone tries to kill her, but also successfully murders other scientists who have realized the truth. A week later her package arrives at her colleague’s office. He reads it over, panics, and calls in another co-worker. They (Karl and Ralph) realize something extremely sinister is afoot and the world will not be safe if this stays hidden. The three set off to try and save the planet from a diabolical scheme while putting themselves in danger.
Sky Seed is a thrilling global disaster novel that feels authentic due to the grounded storytelling and scattered use of jargon and tech that make this story feel real, add on a climate disaster that speaks volumes on contemporary climate issues, and you end up with a novel that is very realistic. It takes a very valid idea, then shows how that idea could actually be more harmful in the long-run. Even though this book is designed to entertain, I do feel I learned a bit more about climate science by reading this. I liked the subtle addition of humor lightly scattered throughout the story. It really helped to bring levity to some dense and serious sections. I will not ruin the punchlines by sharing them here, but brainy humor is my soft spot. (I see your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy joke and very much appreciated it in part 3). The story and plot line are solid and overall I loved the story.
Author Bill McGuire has given readers a suspenseful science fiction disaster novel with a creative climate change problem that’s tackled in entertaining fashion.
Pages: 257 | ASIN: B08HM842WD
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Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 by Norman Westhoff is a captivating adventure story full of inspiring narratives! In the story, we follow Keltyn, a geologist who is exploring a now defrosted Antarctica. Keltyn is trying to find iridium around Mount Erebus, a volcano that the local Onwei tribe has predict will erupt soon! While on her mission, Keltyn makes friends with two teens from the tribe; Luz and Joaquin. While on their adventure, the trio grows, learns, and discovers the ulterior motives of a certain Oscar Bailey! Keltyn must find a way to stop Oscar before it’s too late!
Despite the hardships found within this story, Westhoff has managed to create a heartwarming tale that I could not get enough of! He touched on so many relevant topics, including colonization, global warming, and cultural diversity!
The character development was spectacular and a particular focal point of this novel. We watch Luz grow emotionally from a naïve young girl to a fierce young woman by the end of the novel. I must say, I really enjoyed Luz’s relationship with her mother in this book; it strayed away from the typical nuclear family unit.
The world-building was fantastic! Westhoff took a risk using the real-life issue of global warming as a plot device and world-building tool, but he handled it with grace and elegance. His portrayal of the issue left me with a hopeful outlook, despite it being fiction.
Westhoff’s storytelling abilities are also praiseworthy! He can keep you hooked from page one all the way to page 299; it is incredible! There was never a dull moment; wait until you get to chapter 13; you will not be able to put the book down!
The writing style also captured my attention. It’s simplicity made the story easy to follow and a joy to read. There was never a moment where I had to go back and reread a passage due to intricate text, which can be a common issue amongst indie authors. The chapters where Keltyn was narrating were my favorite!
Stone Fever: Erebus Tales Book 1 is a thrilling adventure story that touches on important topics while always entertaining the reader.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: B085YF4RWG
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In Resilience – The Ultimate Sustainability, Aris Papadopoulos extensively writes about natural disasters, the environment, buildings, and construction. The author uses statistics to explain his points and why he arrived at certain conclusions. He goes through several disasters, talking about their causes, the damages they brought, and lives lost. Reading about recent disasters is an agonizing experience as the author makes one feel the impact of the disasters as if they happened in real-time. You can tell that the author has studied and extensively researched the topics he writes about. Reading Aris Papadopoulos’s book is not only eye-opening but also an educative activity.
The author starts by talking about major disasters that marked recent U.S history. He starts by discussing various hurricanes, the effects they caused, and how whatever remained after the damage was salvaged. When talking about a particular state or town, the author first makes the reader familiar with the area, giving general data of the state or city and highlighting common elements associated with the place. His narration of the events leading to the disasters is excellent. He touches on the administrative structure and how the federal government comes in, as they make the reader aware of different communities.
Every chapter talks about something different. You are assured of learning something new with every page. Aris Papadopoulos is blunt with the truth and not shy of exposing the flaws where the system failed. This book should be read by everyone in any executive post or position of power. There is a lot to learn not only for those who are admins but also for people who are in various sectors like, engineering, construction, environmental conservation, meteorology, and anyone else involved in making policies. I found the author’s text to be helpful as he uses a language everyone can understand even when talking about resilience and responsibility. Since some disasters are unexpected, the author advises everyone to be alert.
Resilience – The Ultimate Sustainability is not just about disasters that impact America, the author goes global and discusses different countries. One can learn multiple lessons from the countries mentioned given how they handle the disasters that affect them. This book makes you understand how politics is pivotal in every aspect of life. Bad politics and governance mean that the masses get to experience mediocrity. Aris Papadopoulos’s book will enlighten you on the value of upright politicians and why the stability of certain sectors is better for the economy among other things.
Pages: 194 | ISBN: 978-0986181610
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In The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild, Enric Sala talks everything nature and discusses conservancy, the importance of protecting the planet, and living responsibly. Having been a marine biologist for decades, Enric Sala pulls from years of experience to provide a sharp and informed perspective on the environment and how man has managed to drastically change nature. As he discusses the wild, animals, plants, and every living thing, one can tell how passionate Enric Sala is about the subject. The agony in his words when addressing the destruction of nature, the joy in his tone when he discusses conservancy and how to preserve the planet’s endangered species makes one fall in love not only with the book but also the work the author has been doing over the years.
Through the lessons and Enric Sala’s stories about his work and personal life the reader is exposed to a world that is so vital to us, yet nebulous. I enjoyed the experiences Enric Sala shared about his line of work. The stories the author gives are eye-opening and will leave you feeling informed about the role humans play in destroying flora and fauna. Not many people get to witness directly how human activity affects animals both on land and in the sea. Enric Sala shares this reality through simple and engaging language that kept me rapt.
Readers will learn a lot about the value of saving the environment and how politics, the economy, and other sectors are affected when the environment is destroyed. Through this book, the author encourages everyone to be an environmental activist in little ways. Modernization and civilization have led to an increase in air pollution. To control this, the author encourages people to adopt new lifestyles and engage in activities like tree planting and cleaning the environment to ensure that the air we breathe and the water fish swim in is not harmful.
The Nature of Nature: Why We Need the Wild comes at a critical time for the planet and should be essential reading. Enric Sala has written a thought-provoking book that distills complex ecological concepts into easily understandable ideas that could save the planet, improve your health, and strengthen the economy.
Pages: 272 | ASIN: B08273CTZK
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A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth through four generations of women with a unique relationship to water. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?
It started with one of my short stories: “The Way of Water”. I’d been asked by my publisher in Rome (Mincione Edizioni) to write a speculative socio-political short story about the environment—water, particularly. I wanted something ironic, so I chose water scarcity in Canada, a nation rich in water. The story was about young Hilde—the daughter of the diarist in the novel—who was dying of thirst in Toronto. This is a Toronto under the control of the international giant water utility CanadaCorp—with powers to arrest and detain anyone. A world in which China owns America and America, in turn, owns Canada. I realized that I needed a larger story: on how Canada became this water-scarce nation as indentured state; more on Hilde’s mysterious limnologist mother, Lynna (the diarist in the novel); and more on what happens next (explored through Kyo and her strange world of the future).
Kyo is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s development?
Kyo starts and ends the story in the sacred boreal forest of the far future. she’s a blue-skinned multi-armed human being—essentially a water-being—looking for answers why the world is the way it currently is due to climate change and other things humanity has caused. She frames the gritty diary part of the story. Kyo represents the future. She’s also a young girl, and in some ways, her part of the story is a coming of age, of self-discovery and growing maturity. Given her metaphoric connection to water, the planet and a new humanity of sorts, Kyo’s character serves as a metaphor for humanity and its own coming of age.
The novel expertly captures a post-climate changed world and the changes it effects on society. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
A Diary in the Age of Water is a cautionary dystopian tale that is based on real events and precedents. This is partly why I wrote some of the book as a diary. The diarist—Lynna—is a limnologist who sees what is going on but because she is right in the middle of it, she lacks the perspective to recognize the gravity of some of the things she is witnessing and doing herself. She exercises a myopic protectionism that backfires on her time and time again. Perhaps the main theme of this book is one of perspective and how that perspective can influence actions and reactions in surprising ways. Information and knowledge isn’t enough—as Lynna demonstrates. Context and understanding, fueled by compassion and kindness must accompany it.
Ultimately, the book carries themes of hope and forgiveness—of ourselves and each other—and compassion for all things, starting with water. Each character carries an aspect of that theme, from the diarist’s activist mother, to the diarist’s own cynical protectionism, her spiritual anarchist daughter, and lastly the innocent storm of the last generation.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently researching and working on the sequel to “A Diary in the Age of Water”—a thriller about four lost and homeless people who find their way when a phenomenon brings them together through a common goal to free the Earth from the manacles of human greed. The story takes place throughout Canada—from Halifax to Vancouver and the Arctic. It takes place mostly during the 2050s, and features a few ghosts, the Halifax 1917 Explosion, experimentation on humans, espionage, murder, and—of course—a plague. I’m calling it my COVID19 novel…
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