A brilliant colleague, Brian LaPointe (a review on one of his lectures about artificial reefs posted on 5/9/2010, so now you have an excuse to scour the archives!), serves as the inspiration for a lovable character surfacing in the new children's book series Professor Clark the Science Shark. I heard about a book signing but missed the opportunity to attend. So, naturally I dropped a line to Brian asking how could I get an autographed copy.
Within a few days my phone rings and the series' author Scott is on the other end, bursting with passion and enthusiasm for his new project. Working with children for a huge portion of my life, including conducting Story Time for a couple thousand people over the past 2 years alone, has shown me how quickly child like excitement transmits to the audience. But it is also easy to burn out when constantly faced with the challenges of teaching children and trying to make the right choices everyday in order to "practice what. So I took the phone call and the opportunity to meet a talented couple and learn about their creation, Clark the Shark, first hand.
I have reviewed books in the past, and had originally planned to do the same thing here after snagging my autographed copy... but plans always change, right? I did meet Scott and Karen Lamberson with my 3 year old son in tow. While he traumatized the office with dancing and race cars, they just smiled and shared the love behind their new endeavor into the world of children's books and ocean conservation. Perhaps what I like most is that the Lambersons are not trained in marine biology or have spent years doing research - they are normal people who simply have a love for the ocean and all its creatures. Sound familiar? Why does anyone get involved in a cause these days? Knowing this is also why so much care was taken by the authors to ensure that the "Fin Facts" in each Professor Clark book are completely accurate. Personally, this last fact is super important to me as an environmental educator. Plus, authors who take the time to research their facts write better stories regardless of the genre or demographic.
The creators are working with a variety of non-profit organizations as part of the mission to make a difference by inspiring the newest generation. Both COAST Ecology and Shark Savers are already involved, but expect to see more of Professor Clark in the future (I hear from authors Scott and Karen that great things are on the horizon!).
Basically, yeah, I bought the book for myself. I am looking forward to the next 2 books in the series (which I have already seen - how cool is THAT?!) I highly recommend the series, particularly for kids ages 6 & up. Toddlers will not likely sit and allow you to read each word on every page, but the illustrations are fun for them anyway. I am constantly finding my 3 year old pulling out his copy to flip through the pages and tell me what he sees. Over the next few books, look for unique character development and the chance to meet new creatures with great interactions and an even better message.
Support the local authors in your community - you will find some real treasures I guarantee it!
For more information:
The book is available at Barnes & Noble, and online through Professor Clark's website http://professorclark.com/ and I have learned that special color-yourself t-shirts are soon to follow!