ORPHANED CUB INSPIRES SCIENCE TEACHERS

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LITTLE ROCK, AR – November 18, 2014 – In an urban area of Brazil, in the early spring month of October, 2012, a puma cub was born. After he was orphaned on November 26, his life caught the interest of wildlife illustrator, Kitty Harvill and children’s book author, Darcy Pattison. Together, they created the children’s picture book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub, which has just been named a 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teacher’s Association (http://www.nsta.org/publications/ostb/ostb2015.aspx).

Abayomi’s short life has been hard: his mother was caught in a farmer’s trap and died on November 26; on his own for 23 days, he was finally found and rescued by concerned puma scientists. That’s where things became tricky. Márcia Rodrigues, Ph.D. and Sergio Ferreira, puma scientists for the Brazilian government had to decide what to do with the cub. Would they place him in a zoo, or would he return to the wild? Their work on behalf of pumas wasn’t receiving much attention. They were discouraged.

And then, Kitty Harvill and Christoph Hrdina walked into their lives. Hrdina, a long-time environmentalist in Brazil, brought his wife, wildlife artist Kitty Harvill to visit, and they heard the cub’s story. Harvill had recently illustrated a children’s picture book, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years (Mims House, 2012), written by Darcy Pattison, which had received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, and been awarded the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Award for Children’s Books 2013.

Harvill was captured by the cub’s story and brought it to author, Darcy Pattison.
“We think Abayomi’s story illustrates some of the key environmental issues today,” said Darcy Pattison. “And it does so within a heart-warming story that kids can relate to.”

With the adoption of the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for education, science teachers are searching for materials to help them meet the new mandate. Abayomi’s story emphasizes the problems of loss of habitat and survival of species within an urban environment.

Back in Brazil, Rodrigues and Ferreira are working to create wildlife corridors, or undeveloped pathways between wild places. One of their tools is this book: a Portuguese version of the story for distribution in Brazil is in the works. The book also gave them needed confidence to continue their advocacy for the pumas, and has resulted in the construction of a facility to help the rehabilitation of pumas such as Abayomi, with the hope of returning them to the wild. For more on their work, see the Brazilian Puma Corridor Project at www.icmbio.gov.br/corredordasoncas Abayomi’s story is still uncertain, but the scientists hope he can be released to the wild sometime in the next year.

“We just write and illustrate for kids,” Pattison said. “And yet, a project like this can make a real-world difference in the environment. It’s been amazing to see what a simple story can do. We can’t wait to see what new adventures Abayomi will have in the hands of science educators.”

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Other Books from the Pattison/Harvill Team

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

From the award-winning team that brought you WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, comes a new heart-warming story of an orphaned puma cub.

A mother puma, an attempt to steal a chicken and an angry chicken farmer—the search is on for orphaned cubs. Will the scientists be able to find the cubs before their time runs out?

In this “Biography in Text and Art,” Harvill takes original photos as references to create accurate wildlife illustrations. These aren’t generic cats, but one particular individual in detail. Pattison’s careful research, vetted by scientists in the field, brings to life this this true story of an infant cub that must face a complicated world alone—and find a way to survive.

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review: Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for Over 60 Years

  • “. . .Pattison writes crisply and evocatively. . .”
  • “Harvill contributes carefully detailed and naturalistic illustrations. . .”
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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Children's book author. Twice her books have been named Outstanding Science Trade Books.
    Children’s book author. Twice her books have been named Outstanding Science Trade Books.

    Children’s book author Darcy Pattison finds inspiration in writing about wildlife and twice her books have been honored as NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books. Her science-nature picture books include Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub (Mims House), an NSTA 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Book; Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years (Mims House), a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly; Desert Baths (Arbordale), an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013; and, Prairie Storms (Arbordale).

    Other picture books include The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt), which received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, starred reviews in BCCB and Kirkus, and has been published in a Houghton Mifflin textbook; Searching for Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt); 19 Girls and Me (Philomel); and 11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph (Mims House), winner of “The Help” Children’s Story Contest. Her series, The ALIEN, INC. CHAPTER BOOK SERIES (Mims House) includes Kell, the Alien; Kell and the Horse Apple Parade; Kell and the Giants; and Kell and the Detectives (March, 2015). She is also the author of middle grade novels and teaches nationally a Novel Revision Retreat. For more, see darcypattison.com/about

    ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR

    Illustrator, Kitty Harvill, is half wild with excitement at winning the NSTA award.
    Illustrator, Kitty Harvill, is half wild with excitement at winning the NSTA award.

    Kitty Harvill specializes in wildlife art, especially endangered species, and works in watercolor, pastel, oil and cut paper. She has a dual residency in Arkansas/U.S. and Brazil and is actively involved with the conservation efforts in southern Brazil. Recent titles include Wisdom, the Midway Albatross (Mims House), Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-
    Picking Time
    (Holiday House) and Vida Livre (published in Brazil). Born in Clarksville, Tennessee, Harvill holds degrees in painting and illustration. For more information, see KittyHarvill.com

    Publisher’s Weekly Review of ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA

    “Pattison briefly discusses the problems that human development poses for Brazil’s pumas before moving on to the cub, named Abayomi (“happy meeting”) by his rescuers. The writing alternates between poetic moments and reportorial passages. . .Harvill’s muted, realistic portraits of Brazilian fauna and flora give a strong sense of the pumas’ threatened natural habitat.”

    More information.

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    When we published WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, we always hoped the book would find its way to Japan. While the story focuses on how the oldest bird in the world survived the Japanese tsunami, the story is also about that March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. We are excited to report that WISDOM is on the 2014-15 reading list for the Sakura Medal, which is a children’s book award given by the international schools in Japan. They give award to children’s book written in Japanese and in English. We are thrilled that this award will bring Wisdom’s story to the 15,000 students served in these 25 schools. Thank you, Sakura Medal for allowing us to share Wisdom’s story with a Japanese audience.
    Read more about Wisdom here.

    SakuraMedal