Author Jennifer Keats Curtis is a nature lover and an “animal person.” Teachers and students even call her “The Green Author.” Through her own research, the journalist has developed a knack for teaching young children about ecological issues and what they can do to help. Is it any surprise that she has teamed up yet again with environmentally educational publisher Sylvan Dell Publishing for her new fall release Baby Owl’s Rescue?Publisher and author first collaborated in 2006 with Curtis’s Turtles in my Sandbox. Now, they present Baby Owl’s Rescue, the tale of a brother-and-sister duo and their wildlife rehabilitator mom who help a Great Horned Owlet that has fallen out of its nest. Curtis’s important message—wild animals are not pets—comes through clearly without a preachy tone. Lush illustrations by renowned artist Laura Jacques accompany this story and demonstrate the proper treatment of wildlife. “As a kid, I brought home all manner of sick and hurt wild animals—mostly babies—that I’d found in my backyard and in the nearby woods. I always tried to nurse them back to health. They always died, and I always cried. I wanted to help them, but I was going about it the wrong way,” said Curtis.
Then, Curtis met rehabilitator Kathy Woods. Wildlife rehabilitators are experts trained to take care of sick or injured wild animals and then, whenever possible, return them to the wild. Woods founded the Phoenix Wildlife Center, and with Woods’s help, Curtis found she was drawn to raptors, mainly owls. “‘What if’ scenarios about a baby owl kept running through my head. Baby owls fall out of their nests; what if a kid found it? How could she help?” mused Curtis. “I honed in on Great Horneds because they are known as the flying tigers of the skies. I asked Kathy questions, and she expertly answered them. I gathered all that research and combined it with my imagination to write Baby Owl as realistic fiction. I also consider the book Kathy’s story; therefore, I’m donating a portion of the royalties to her center.”
As a children’s author, Curtis’ goal is to help bring children closer to the animals in their own backyards. Her first book, Oshus and Shelly Save the Bay, won the Frederick Douglass Award (Maryland Council of Teachers of English Language Arts). She also wrote Osprey Adventure, based on the work of Peter McGowan, a biologist with US Fish & Wildlife. Most days, Curtis can be found among students and teachers, talking about literacy or conservation. When she’s not in schools, Curtis serves as editor-at-large for Maryland Life Magazine. She resides in Maryland.
In celebration of her new release, Curtis has a number of events scheduled for the coming months in the Baltimore area and beyond. Her book launch party is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30, where she will hold an “Owl Launch” from Ft. Smallwood Elementary in Pasadena, MD. For event details, visit http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/events.htm#Owl. For more information about her book, visit http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/Owl.php.
Now, it’s YOUR turn! What’s your favorite kids’ book about environmental education? What book made the biggest different in your life and the life of your kids? Never forget: conservation is COOL!