Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Stripes or Spots I still love you!

Eric Wu
Shark week blog post August 2010
This week is the end of the Alphabeasts series... Come and meet Firenze and Andres!

Don't forget to have a look at the awesome animated work of Eric Wu that wonderfully illustrates the transformation of the Zebra shark...

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Have I got a story for you…

E. B. Whyte and Minnie
White Literary LLC [CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
When I think of how we develop our empathetic beliefs and values about the environment in which we live the stories we are exposed to at a young age are what immediately come to mind. There are various ways in which a story is delivered, but there is nothing like the comfort of a book. Early childhood and middle school years are a significant formative time in our personal history and can be when many of the foundations are developed for one's future conservationist involvement.  

The role storytelling can play an important part in developing, reflecting and shaping the popular perceptions of wildlife concerns, and in young children and middle school aged children this can be delivered through creative non-fiction. If we quickly think of a favourite story most of us may have a childhood book that was read to us, or perhaps we can even recall one of the first books we read on our own. At a young age, the narrative is where children can absorb key concepts and have the freedom to explore their own beliefs by framing the knowledge they consume through their own lens.

The development of a conservation ethic was something that I experienced myself in reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. Whyte.  Many of the stories that I read as a child provided a path toward my own environmental education and my insatiable curiosity to learn about all realms of animal studies. The beauty in developing that hunger for reading is that it is an easily manoeuvrable journey upon which the reader can embark at their own pace and at their own level. Creative non-fiction is regenerative in that it can incorporate central educational goals through the enlivened delivery of an imaginative educational approach.

"Andrea Mantegna 038" by Andrea Mantegna -
The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei.
DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202.
Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH..
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 
With creative nonfiction, this particular genre of storytelling can introduce children to specific environmental concepts and also help them to become ecologically literate. In particular, stories like Watership Down by Richard Adams fostered in me an increased awareness and understanding for human and nonhuman animal conflict related to habitat loss. I very much attribute the stories that I was exposed to as a child as the catalysts to encouraging my engagement in conservation efforts and my bond with other species of this world. There are many ways to learn about associated organisms, ecological processes, and to develop one’s environmental ethic. But the power of the embodiment of ideas through a great story can never be matched… For a few ideas of books you may want to explore please check out this month’s Top 5 List at ICAS for some wonderful children’s titles. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mirror Mirror

This week at Beautiful Creatures we continue with the storyline of Flitzen and Schatz which was first introduced in April. When we left Flitzen, she had just escaped Molly and come face to face with Schatz. If you have followed the Alphabeast series you will be familiar with the beginning of this week’s story which is the continuation to Beautiful Creatures’ Mad as a March Hare.

Schatz gazed upon her with gentleness like no other. They were similar in many ways, yet distinctively different. Flitzen was a true Belgian Hare, and Schatz was a Blue-Eyed White Beveren. Flitzen had a very friendly nature but she was easily startled by any sudden change in the auditory or visual shift of her environment. Her long slender body and graceful lines gave her the appearance of a wild hare. She had a deep chestnut red-coloured coat that would catch the rays of sunlight and emanate the warmth of her soul within.

Their first meeting was one for the storybooks as Flitzen’s canine pursuer poked its head into the underground refuge ruffling her tail with its hot breath. As they found each other face to face their twitching noses mirrored the other in the safety of Schatz’s underground hidden world. They were deep enough in the ground that they were safe from the dog but Schatz hopped forward and Flitzen followed closely behind. They had hopped through a short tunnel to Schatz’s cool den beneath the earth and from the heat above ground. Sitting across from the other they closely examined the contrast between their coat, eyes and size… 

When she looked upon Schatz he reminded her of the morning frost with his sparkling white fur that twinkled like the stars of the deep night sky. Although there were several outward differences, Flitzen could feel the parallel rhythm of Schatz’s heart. He was cautious yet warm, respectful and welcoming, deeply loving and calm. Flitzen knew from the moment of their first encounter that he was a rare breed. She was a spirited rabbit but took comfort in the tender voice of a wonderful storyteller and Schatz was the perfect match for her! He was full of energy yet balanced with his calm and laid-back demeanour... He had a delicate charm and subtle shyness that was quite endearing and she knew then and there that she had fallen upon a genuinely authentic soul. This first meeting was an unexpected gift, and Flitzen was immediately drawn to him. Schatz had a deep inner beauty that was so powerful it glowed, lighting up the room and warming her from within. 

He was intoxicating, much like Tom’s belly on a storytelling night… 
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