Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Teenager writes children’s book about deforestation

Teenager writes children’s book about deforestation

A TEENAGE girl has written and illustrated a children’s book about the dangers of deforestation.

Anna Lewis, 14, of Whitehouse Road, Woodcote, came up with the idea for Charlie’s Home after enrolling in a weekly art class last year.

The story is about a young kookaburra named Charlie who loses his home and is separated from his parents when their tree is knocked down by bulldozers.

They are eventually reunited and find somewhere new to settle but fear the same thing could happen again.

Anna, who attends Langtree School in Woodcote, wrote the story as part of a project for her tutors at Artspiration in Maidenhead, who arranged for it to be published.

She also painted five illustrations using ink outlines and watercolours.

She sold the first 100 copies to classmates and teachers, who encouraged her to read it aloud in assembly, and to pupils at Woodcote Primary School next door.

Anna also sent a copy to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Swedish teenager and environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

She is now preparing to print and sell another batch of books, with some of the proceeds going to charity, and to give copies to local schools and libraries.

She also hopes to write more books showing how animals are affected by problems like plastic pollution or the polar icecaps melting due to climate change.

Anna, who lives with her mother Natasha and younger sister Samantha, was inspired by her upbringing in Australia, where the kookaburra is native, and her father Simon, an engineer who used to work in the oil and gas industry before embracing greener technologies.

She said: “I’ve enjoyed art for as long as I can remember and I thought this was a good topic as the environment is a big issue and I wanted to spread awareness. The sooner that younger children are aware of it, the sooner they can start making a difference.

“I didn’t realise it would be such a big deal at my school but there was so much interest after one of my friends found out and showed it to everyone. They all thought it was really cool that I’d published my own book.

“The environment is the big issue of my generation because it’s going to affect how we’re living in 30 or more years and we want everything to be okay when we reach that point.

“Younger people seem most interested in it, which is a shame as we’re the ones who’ll have to fix the problem. I think it’s great that Dad’s now working with renewable energy sources.”

Mr Lewis, from Dunsden, used to work in fracking in Australia but is now helping to develop sustainable technologies such as wind farms with energy firm SSE.

He said: “I’m glad I jumped across to a more progressive company. I told Anna how we would clear huge tracts of land using two bulldozers chained together, which is one of the images that inspired the book.

“When I worked in fracking, I saw ponds on fire where methane was bubbling up from under the water and catching light. In America the process even uses radioactive isotopes, which can’t be good for anyone.

“Renewable energy is the way forward without any doubt. The technologies that are coming out are mind-blowing and it’s great that Anna understands the importance of looking after the planet.

“She was always quite arty, which is funny because I’m an engineer so I only work with straight lines.

“I knew about her project but had no idea it was going to be published until it was almost finished.

“Langtree have been brilliant and so supportive, so we’re very thankful to them.

“Anna is laid back and and doesn’t blow her own trumpet so I think she has been pleasantly surprised by the reaction.”

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