ENCHANTED EVERGLADES


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Kirkus Review

Kowatch combines Everglades ecology, with a tale of survival, friendship, and fantasy in this debut adventure novel for middle-grade readers.

Ocean River and Ellen Hansen, both 12 years old, are inseparable friends. After the untimely death of Ellen’s father, Ocean jeopardizes his bond with her when he accidentally disrupts the funeral. The rift grows until the two find themselves stuck together on vacation with Ellen’s mother and Ocean’s parents in Everglades National Park. When their airboat crashes, the tweens awaken to find themselves on their own, and they must work together to survive. Ocean and Ellen discover that they’re in “a freakish world” where “animals did yoga and chanted with beads, where ghosts and jumbo pythons roamed, [and] where raccoons had strange hairstyles.”

Their allies include a peaceful alligator who happens to be a “yogi master” and future king of the Everglades, a baby turtle, a wise wood stork, a fluffy dog, helpful pelicans, fierce dolphins, and a talkative lizard. These friends help them take on a mutant python and his children, scheming “playboy raccoons,” wily river otters, and up-to-no-good ospreys. The kids’ journey winds through exquisitely described swamp ecosystems, subtly distorted by man-made elements, such as global warming, pesticides, escaped exotic pets, and residual engine oil.

The rich descriptions of wildlife ecosystems make this book worth reading by all audiences; however, the action does have a cartoonish, made-for-TV feel that makes it most suitable for middle-grade readers. The book’s moral lessons are valid but still feel pat on delivery; for example, Ocean concludes too easily that “I need to live in the present moment and forgive the past, including my mistakes and [Ellen’s].”

Still, young readers will benefit from the book’s depictions of forgiveness within friendship, grief, resilience, and teamwork. (The book includes periodic black-and-white illustrations by Shinn that reflect the action of the story.)

A whimsical odyssey featuring a playfully bizarre cast of characters.


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“Today is a Very Special Day” Song

Bix, a young soft-shelled turtle, sings this song one morning. I composed the melody, lyrics, and produced the song with a talented instrumental arranger named Andy Ellis Valdini. He also played the live violin and piano. The singer–Gideon Nasby–has the cutest voice! Tarik Ghiradella played the drums; Andrew Timothy, the guitar. Peter Duff and Ziv mixed the sound recording. I hired everyone through Airgigs.com.

TODAY IS A VERY SPECIAL DAY by Gail Kowatch

 I love today! It’s gonna be a great day!

 Verse 1

The sun warms my face

The rain tickles my nose

It doesn’t matter what the weather holds

‘Cause I’m gonna have a great day.

Verse 2

I swim to first place

I can bumble the race

It doesn’t matter if I win or lose

‘Cause I’m gonna have a great day.

Prechorus

I feel terrific! I feel amazing!

I’m going to give, my smile, to everyone,

I meet and greet today!

Chorus

Today, today is a very special day

Today, today is going my way

It’s one of a kind

It’s here then it’s gone

And so, I’m going to make today, the best day ever!

Verse 3

Some kids make me smile

Some kids squabble with me

It doesn’t matter how they are to me

‘Cause I’m gonna have a great day.

Verse 4

I can run and play

I have sniffles today

It doesn’t matter what my body feels

‘Cause I’m gonna have a great day.

Prechorus

I feel terrific! I feel amazing!

I’m going to give, my smile, to everyone,

I meet and greet today!

Chorus

Today, today is a very special day

Today, today is, going my way

It’s one of a kind

It’s here then it’s gone

And so, I’m going to make today, the best day ever!

I’m going to give, my smile, to everyone,

I meet and greet today!

Have a great day everyone! Love you!

 

Copyright © 2015 Great Rays, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Thank you. With love,

Gail

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