“A SNOWY OWL STORY,” written by Melissa Kim, illustrated by Jada Fitch, February 2015, Islandport Press, children’s board book, $10.95.
In an effort to connect young children with wildlife, the Maine Audubon is teaming up with the Islandport Press of Yarmouth to create “Wildlife on the Move,” a book series for a pre-K audience.
The first of these books, “A Snowy Owl Story,” was published in February and relates the true story of a snowy owl that traveled from the Arctic to Portland, Maine, last winter. This particular owl became trapped inside a building. It was rescued, evaluated and released by licensed wildlife rehabilitators at Avian Haven in Freedom.
“There are not very many board books that tell this sort of story — a true story,” said Melissa Kim, author of “A Snowy Owl Story” and senior editor of children’s books at Islandport Press. “This is a different type of storytelling for that age group.”
Complementing Kim’s simple narrative are beautiful illustrations by Jada Fitch, an artist and birder from Portland who has a special connection to the story. Last winter, Fitch was working in a store in downtown Portland when she heard that there was an owl stuck in a nearby building. With a camera in hand, she visited the building and took photos of the trapped snowy, which she later used to produce a series of sketches.
“She sent the sketches and the pictures to the Maine Audubon, and that led them to get her in on the project,” Kim explained.
All four books in the series will be written by Kim and illustrated by Fitch. The next book, set to be released in the fall, will be about the little brown bat and how a disease called White-Nose Syndrome is diminishing their population throughout the country.
The third story will likely be about the Blanding’s turtle, an endangered species in Maine, and the dangers they face while traveling from one water source to another. And the critter for the fourth story is yet to be decided.
“The thing that will unite the stories is they’re all about species that migrate or move,” Kim said. “They’re all about animal patterns and seasonal cycles. And there’s also the role humans play, whether it’s direct or indirect.”
Kim said the Maine Audubon and Islandport Press had three priorities when brainstorming for these stories: to illustrate wildlife movement patterns, to reflect respectful human interaction with nature, and to address the idea of conserving wildlife habitat.
“This is a totally new venture,” said Kim. “It’s very exciting.”