We are officially one month away from the launch of Trouble at Turtle Pond, out from Fitzroy Books / Regal House on April 5!
This whole process of researching, writing, selling, and marketing this book has turned me into a conservationist, though I’m still learning how to be one. I don’t have a science background, so it took me awhile to learn that you don’t have to have a Ph.D or really any special training to be a conservationist. Anyone can be one! And lots of creative people can be “creative conservationists,” using their art to raise awareness of creatures that need our help.
That’s why I’m launching a series called Real Life Backyard Rangers on the blog and Instagram. It’s inspired by the Backyard Rangers in Trouble at Turtle Pond.
In Trouble at Turtle Pond, eleven-year-old Miles joins a group of self-appointed young wildlife rangers on his street, who call themselves the “Backyard Rangers.” They live adjacent to a wildlife refuge, but since they can’t always go there without parents, they focus on protecting creatures who occasionally travel outside of the bounds of the refuge and into their neighborhood . . . like nesting Blanding’s turtles, who need some help crossing roads. When they aren’t helping turtles, they run a ranger station out of a cardboard box, sell lemonade to raise money for a field biologist, and educate the public about local wildlife. Their main mission: speaking up for the creatures who cannot speak, and helping people pay attention to – and protect! – these creatures.
The Rangers are essentially doing community science work even as they investigate a mystery involving the turtles. The more community science work they do – protecting their nests, tracking their whereabouts – the more clues they uncover. The more clues they uncover, the more they commit to their community science and, eventually, their activism.
I got inspired to do community science work when my son’s fourth-grade class took care of Blanding’s turtle hatchlings several years ago. My son became deeply interested in them, and this became a family activity even after school ended as we joined a conservation group in tracking turtles to locate nests and protect eggs. We then fostered ten tiny turtle hatchlings in our home for a month. This experience changed our lives. My son went on to give presentations about his community science work, and went on to help other types of animals in other programs. And I wrote a book!
Although my characters are fictitious, I wrote this book in part to make visible the very real work that conservationists do – scientists and non-scientists alike. To celebrate the sometimes invisible work that conservationists and community scientists do, I will be spotlighting a Real Life Backyard Ranger with a photo, bio, and inspiring quote. You’ll learn about these people, all kinds of animals, and organizations all over North America that are helping them.
Here’s a sneak peak of our first Real Life Backyard Ranger, Tori Fox, who works with the Nature Conservancy. Tune in to Instagram next Thursday to learn more about Tori’s work! I hope you enjoy this series, which will post every Thursday, and please feel free to share!
Another important note: a great way to support authors with their launches is by pre-ordering the book, which you can do here. Pre-orders are super important. They help create some buzz around books so that retailers get excited about them and know to stock them in stores. So if you are in a position to pre-order, please know that every book counts, and I really do appreciate it! And if you’re not able, another thing that really helps is requesting that your local library carry the book!