Independently published

Bella, The Wildlife Ambassador: Protecting Piping Plovers

From Kirkus Review (June, 2019): In this children’s book, a dog explains the reasons why piping plovers are endangered and the measures being taken to protect them.Nine-year-old Bella narrates that she’s a black Newfoundland whose retirement mission is “to help wildlife” with her son Blue, and “my human,” Katie. (Bella’s a former journalist who wrote for such magazines as “BONE APPETIT” and “DOG’S DIGEST.”) Newfoundlands make good “Ambassador” animals, she says, bech magazines as “BONE APPETIT” and “DOG’S DIGEST.”) Newfoundlands make good “Ambassador” animals, she says, because they’re gentle as well as protective. And many species need protecting, she notes, due to factors such as habitat loss, pollution, the climate crisis, and “human-wildlife conflict,” as when piping plovers and humans want to share the same beach: “shorebirds are one of the most threatened bird families in the world,” notes Katie. In Little Compton, Rhode Island, Goosewing Beach is the site of a salt-marsh nature conservancy that protects plovers’ nests during breeding season. One plover, Hercules, has a damaged wing feather and gets left behind when the other birds head south for the winter, so Bella and Blue stand guard, allowing Hercules to rest, undisturbed by predators. After speaking with a red fox drawn to the beach by humans’ garbage, Bella thinks of an appropriate slogan: “People, Predators, Pets, and Piping Plovers: we’re all connected.” She convinces local cats “to cut back on evening forays” at the beach, and finishes by listing ways humans can help protect plovers, such as by picking up beach garbage and keeping felines indoors. In her debut, Dolan presents her ecological message with an effective mix of facts and anthropomorphic storytelling. She clearly explains what’s at stake and how humans can contribute to rescuing endangered birds. Bella has an appealing personality; her protectiveness is touching, and as an “Ambassador,” she’s even polite to cats. The author also straightforwardly explains the scientific material, such as how an ecosystem is thrown out of balance when “apex predators” disappear and “mesopredators” thrive. She’s convincing without hammering the points home, making it more likely that kids will be inspired to make their own environmental contributions. Oksner’s (Barking, 2017, etc.) softly shaded watercolor illustrations are lovely and capture the animals’ distinctive charms.An engaging environmental message from an endearing canine character.ALL PROFITS FROM BOOK SALES WILL BE DONATED TO WILDLIFE CONSERVATION. read more