New children’s books by Park City-based author addresses endangered species and climate change
“Molly’s Tale of the American Pikas” and “Sadie’s Search for Truth and Beauty” by Melissa Marsted are available at L.L. Bean, 675 Main St., Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Drive, and luckypennypublications.com
Melissa Marsted, the Park City-based author of the “Wild Life Adventures for Young Readers” series of books, which teach children about national parks and and wildlife, has seen her tales evolve much like the land and animals she writes about.
Her fifth and sixth installments, “Molly’s Tale of the American Pikas” and “Sadie’s Search for Truth and Beauty,” are about more than introducing the animals that live in national parks and monuments. They address bigger issues such as climate change and protecting public lands.
The idea to do that came to Marsted in 2017 when she published the third book, “Tiny’s Grand Adventure,” which was about a black-chinned hummingbird that would cross the border between the United States and Mexico.
“It was a new avenue for me to have a voice in writing, and since then, each one of the books has a tiny environmental message,” she said.
Marsted spotlighted the black-footed ferret in her fourth book, “The Secret Life of Phil,” and continued to explore endangered species with “Molly’s Tale of the American Pika.”
The book follows Molly the Meadowlark as she meets with pikas along the Snake River and at the Lassen Volcanic, Crater Lake, Glacier and Grand Teton national parks.
At each stop, readers are introduced to the rodents’ predators — the Sierra Nevada red fox, the weasel, the red-tailed hawk and the bobcat.
“Molly’s Tale” is also Marsted’s first book that addresses climate change.
“Pikas are studied because of their sensitivity to temperatures, and that fact that they don’t hibernate,” Marsted said. “And their biggest predator of all is climate change and its results that include wildfires, warming river waters and receding glaciers.”
Writing about climate change for young readers was challenging, she said.
“It was scary, because I had to make it understandable and accurate,” Marsted said.
The author recruited a team of professors who study climate change and pikas to help with her scientific facts, and she also decided to let the book’s illustrations by Ruthanne Hamrick speak for themselves.
“The pictures are what really tell what climate change is,” Marsted said.
Perserving land is a big part of the story in “Sadie’s Search for Truth and Beauty,” which is about Sadie, a sage grouse, who takes her family to look for water, according to Marsted.
“They travel to various places in the Colorado Plateau — Horseshoe Bend, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Bears Ears and Natural Bridges,” Marsted said.
The book’s title comes from Marsted’s desire to preserve national monuments, especially Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, which President Trump plans to shrink and open up to energy developers and ranchers.
“We have the Antiquities Act that is supposed to protect these places, but nothing is really being done about them,” she said.
Marsted, an avid runner who has competed in ultramarathons in Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley, decided to write about preserving these areas after she did some research about Bears Ears.
“While I was researching, the sage grouse kept coming up,” she said. “Then when I would go running, the idea started coming.”
Marsted doesn’t look at “Sadie’s Search for Truth and Beauty” as a political book.
“I like to be very apolitical because when we’re in nature, most of us don’t look at people’s culture, religion or political party,” she said. “We’re out there for joy. That’s my premise of all of my books, and I want people to read the books. To me it doesn’t matter to me what political party or religion people belong to. I write these stories that have happy endings, because I hope we can all come together and do something about issues that face our lands.”
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