Book Preview of “If Sharks Disappeared” and Interview with Author Lily Williams

Book: "If Sharks Disappeared" by Lily Williams
Book: “If Sharks Disappeared” by Lily Williams

I was excited to come across this four minute long animated documentary, FINconceivable, about what happens if sharks disappear from the oceans. It is by Lily Williams and I would like to share it with you. link to FINconceivable I love her artwork and I even bought a her print of a whale shark! Lily’s online shop

I also had Lily answer a few questions, and I am thrilled to announce that her book, “If Sharks Disappear,” (Roaring Brook Press) will be in bookstores on May 23, 2017! (link to order)

1.Tell me how you came up with the idea of FINconceivable.

I came up with the idea for FINconceivable after posting my “What Happens When Sharks Disappear?” infographics online. I realized people wanted more information beyond the 3 infographics, so I decided to make FINconceivable my thesis film.

2. How long did it take to make?

It took a school year to make. I created FINconceivable as my 4th year thesis film at California College of the Arts.

3.Sharks are often portrayed as dangerous and an animal we should be fearful of. Why do you love sharks?

I love sharks because they are evolution perfected: older than dinosaurs and have lived through major extinction events. I always root for the underdog though, and with all the over fishing, shark finning, and trophy hunting, sharks are the sort of the underdog right now. They are indeed fierce apex predators that we should respect, but we also need to protect them. Without sharks, we won’t have an ocean to love.

4. Congratulations on the upcoming publication of “If Sharks Disappeared”on May 16, 2017. I am a writer that is trying to get traditionally published-can you give my readers a sneak peek on your journey to publication?

Thank you! My editor from Roaring Brook Press came across my “What Happens When Sharks Disappear?” infographics online and emailed me asking if I would write a book. After that phone call, I found an agent. A lot of things really fell into place seemingly easily… but, from that first phone call to publishing date, 4 years passed and a lot of hard work, research, and dedication went into making that final product. I am really excited for If Sharks Disappeared to be published!

Book Review: Manatee Rescue by Nicola Davies

Manatee Rescue by Nicola Davies
Manatee Rescue by Nicola Davies

“Manatee Rescue” by Nicola Davies (Candlewick Press, 2015) is a middle grade (grades 4-8) children’s book about a rescued baby manatee in the Amazon. In the backmatter, we find out that this book is based on a true-life story.

There are three types of manatees, the West Indian, African and Amazonian. This book is about the ones that live along the Amazon River in South America.

The protagonist is Manuela. She grows up in a culture where killing manatees is a status symbol. She looks forward to the day when she can kill one alongside her father Silvio. Manuela and Silvio succeed in killing a mother manatee, but nothing prepares Manuela for the instant bond she feels for the manatee calf. She secretly vows to raise the calf and return it to the wild.

Manuela and her father take the two-month-old calf home, and Silvio sells the calf as a pet despite Manuela’s protests. Later that night, Manuela and her friend Libia steal the calf and bring it to Granny Raffy’s. Raffy often rehabilitates wild animals.

At Raffy’s, the two girls learn to take care of the calf, from nursing him to cleaning out his pond. Manuela bonds with the calf, who prefers her feeding him his bottle full of milk.

The two girls make a list of things to do, the most important ones (and seemingly impossible) being getting the villagers to care about and never hunt manatees again.

Without giving away the rest of the story away, I will say this book has a happy ending, both fictionally and in real-life.
The backmatter is informative not only about the manatees themselves, but also about the relationship between the natives and the manatees.

Although meant for kids, I think conservation-minded and animal-loving adults will enjoy this quick read (105 pages). It’s a perfect introduction to manatees and community-based conservation for all ages.

Book Review: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

book cover Deep Blue
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly is a mermaid book. There are spells, tails, fancy clothing, houses underwater, animals as pets, and anemones as beds.

This blurb from the inside cover perfectly sums up the book:
“Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromar, has been raised with the expectation—and burden—that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimi ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil…The Dokimi proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin’s arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina’s darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela (her best friend) must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to the other mermaid heroines scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.”

It took me awhile to get into this book as the first 50 pages or so introduce dozens upon dozens of new terms specifically made up for this book series. I’m glad I trudged through, as the story picked up speed once Serafina left her kingdom (the first 100 pages). She and her best friend Neela, also one of 6 “chosen ones,” go on a dangerous quest to quell the six seas of evil.


Danger lurks behind every corner, but since this book is a part of a series, I knew the protagonist and those that are part of the chosen 6, weren’t going to die. The only mermaids in danger are (minor SPOILER) those that Serafina meets along her journey.

Humans are referred to as terragogs, and Serafina meets a few along the way. Humans are seen as bad, and spells have been placed upon them so they don’t expose the mermaids below.

The rest of the book focuses on getting the 6 female characters together, them getting used to their “powers,” and of their almost impossible quest to get some talismans that will help banish the evil from the mer kingdoms.

I would recommend this book who love richly drawn fantasy worlds (one look at the glossary shows how intensive this world is), to those who love mermaid books, and to those that enjoy non-stop action. I am looking forward to the 2nd book in the Waterfire Saga series.
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Book Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie

atlantia by allie condie
Atlantia by Ally Condie

Despite that the blurb from this fiction book makes it sound like it is about mermaids, it isn’t truly. It is a tale of humans living underwater once the air “Above” got too polluted. It is also a story about sisterhood and friendship. The book even ventures into religious territory with the people “Above” and “Below” worshipping their gods, and the people’s changing faith over time. It is a quick read at 298 pages. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, a young adult dystopian series. But I would recommend it to Condie’s fans, those with an environmental bent, and those who enjoy a good story about female empowerment and the strong sisterly bond.

The story revolves around the relationship between those that live Above with those that live Below. Since the book is titled “Atlantia,” most of the story takes place Below. The main character is Rio is recovering from her mother’s mysterious death a year ago. She then has to grieve over the decision of her sister (SPOILERS) to live Above. About three-quarters of the book follows Rio Below, and the rest of the book of her adventure Above. I wouldn’t call this an adventure book as the pace is slow, and it’s not quite a thriller. It is like a mystery, as Rio investigates not only why her sister left without an explanation, but also into the mysterious circumstances of her mother’s death.

Rio meets True, who helps her earn money so she can try and escape Above. True is her love interest, but the romance takes a back seat to the rest of the plot of Rio trying to escape Above. Most of the book focuses on the complicated relationship between her and her mother’s sister, who is a Siren like Rio. Sirens are sort of like mermaids in that they have powerful voices, but they don’t swim underwater or have tails. So Rio slowly learns about her Siren abilities from her Aunt Maire, a shifty figure who is blamed by many for the death of her sister.

The ending is satisfying if not predictable, but the ride is worth the read. I recommend this book for readers who enjoy strong female characters and being immersed in new worlds.
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Book Review “The Death and Life of Monterey Bay” by Stephen Palumbi & Carolyn Sotka

by Stephen Palumbi
The Death and Life of Monterey Bay

I just came across this in my notebook, written 3 years ago! The review is a relevant today as it was years ago, though. Here’s my book review:

“The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival” was a perfect book for me, as a scientist, and as a “history-was-one-of –my-worst-subjects-at-school” kind of person. I worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for 2 years, and I have lived in both Monterey and Pacific Grove, California. I always meant to read John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row,” but never got around to it.

I had known that marine animals were historically exploited in Monterey Bay. Now I know the exact order: sea otters for their luxurious fur, whales for their oil, abalone for their tasty foot, sea urchins because there was nothing else left, and finally the sardines.

I had heard about China Point from my Asian American History class, but I hadn’t known the details of how the Chinese prospered from selling abalone and then squid, only to be forced out because of racism.

I loved being introduced to the former mayor of Pacific Grove, Julia Platt. I would have loved to have met her. She was a marine biologist before women were “allowed” into science at universities. She was outspoken about the affairs of Pacific Grove, and she had the foresight to create the equivalent of a Marine Protected Area off the shores of Pacific Grove.

It was interesting to finally “meet” Ed Ricketts, whom I only knew wrote the book “Between Pacific Tides,” a textbook that was required in my first Marine Biology class. He was quite a character along with his now famous friends, Joseph Campbell and John Steinbeck.

I always love scientists, like Ed Ricketts, who don’t follow the rules of academia. For instance, Jane Goodall started studying chimpanzees without a formal university degree (she later got one). She also named and empathized with her subjects, something scientists are not supposed to do.

Ed Ricketts wasn’t into quantitative data, as he was interested in seeing the big picture. He also saw how the ecology of tide pools fits in with the philosophy of life.

Next time I’m in Pacific Grove, I feel like I should pay a visit to Julia Platt’s old house at 557 Ocean View Boulevard, which is now a bed and breakfast inn, and see her plaque at Lover’s Point.

In short, I highly recommend “The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: a Story of Revival” to natural history lovers, and especially those who have fallen in love with the charm and natural beauty of the Monterey Bay area.
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