Children’s book gets Cayman spin in special CCMI edition

‘A Parrotfish’s Tale’ offers a kid-friendly explanation of a coral reef ecosystem.
‘A Parrotfish’s Tale’ offers a kid-friendly explanation of a coral reef ecosystem.

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s efforts to build knowledge of coral reef conservation and science among local children is getting an unique boost.

As the special Central Caribbean Marine Institute edition of “A Parrotfish’s Tale” was sent to the printers on Monday, 1,000 copies of the book will soon be making their way to the CCMI’s Little Cayman Research Centre, where they will be distributed to youngsters participating in its education programs.

The book’s author, Christina Maas, is a marine ecologist, story writer and artist based in Niedersachsen, Germany, who has worked all over the world studying, researching and exploring marine habitats. The books tell the story of a parrotfish encountering different creatures on a reef.

While the story is based in the Pacific, “The special CCMI Edition includes educational material designed to promote discussion of the ecological issues covered in the book in the context of the Caribbean, with special emphasis on the Cayman Islands region,” Ms. Maas states on her Facebook page.

The story is designed for young readers, setting out in a simple and colorfully illustrated way the different and important roles played by the animals inhabiting a reef.

“I wrote ‘A Parrotfish’s Tale’ for my daughter Annabel,” Ms. Maas writes on her website.

“I wanted to give her a taste of the vibrant underwater communities I was so inspired by. I wanted Annabel, from a very young age, to also adapt an ecological way of thinking; understanding, for example, that each animal on a coral reef has a special role and relies on the other to survive.”

Ms. Maas says the decision to publish the book came from discovering a niche needing to be filled.

“Although I acknowledge that the publication of scientific research in journals is very important, now having a child, I am surprised at how few of the important messages from current marine research are provided in simpler format to young people,” she states.

“My goal is to change that.”

The partnership between the author and the Institute was facilitated by Ellen Cuylaerts who chairs CCMI’s annual “Festival of the Seas” fundraising gala.

“At the gala, the books were auctioned in sets of 100, with each person who purchased a set having that set customized with their name,” explained the Institute’s development and outreach coordinator Brittany Slade. All proceeds from the sales, aside from printing costs, will go toward the Institute’s education efforts.

Ms. Slade says the adapted ending in the CCMI edition is designed to get the primary students who will be reading the book thinking. It will include questions that will ask the students, for example, to explain why they would choose to be a certain reef creature, and what they would do as that creature.

“The books will be given to each of the elementary school students participating in CCMI’s 3-day Caribbean Ecology Course, until they run out,” she said.

“They truly provide a great integration of locally relevant content to kids here in Cayman.”