Forty Million Pieces: from devastation to inspiration
Children's author Nick Lloyd-Davies explains how the ecological devastation of a remote island provided the inspiration for his latest book.
When I saw the above image, I knew what my heroine Katie’s next adventure would be – to put this right.
If only it were so easy…
The great thing about writing fiction, especially for children, is that an author can both entertain and educate at the same time.
At least, that’s what I aim to do. In my Glowstone Adventure series, 12-year-old Katie has a magic glowstone which any animal in the world can call upon if they are in any distress. In Katie Helps a Turtle with Tummy Ache, a green turtle called Harry calls for help as he has an upset tummy caused by ingesting plastic from the ocean. His mate Basil, a crown-of-thorns starfish, is also suffering. And no wonder – just look at the photograph. You will have seen many more such images, no doubt.
I read that there were an estimated forty-million pieces of plastic washed up on this hitherto pristine paradise island in the South Pacific – part of the British Pitcairn Islands. I knew that this would resonate with kids – the harm to a beautiful island, the devastation to precious marine life and the potential for Katie, a heroine not much older than them, to put it right.
This is why the TV presenter Julia Bradbury, also patron to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) charity and Ambassador to Keep Britain Tidy, embraced the chance to write a foreword for the book. As did Dr Jennifer Lavers (Lecturer at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania) who firstly reported this discovery from her survey work. There are filmed records of this discovery on YouTube too – take a look. Dr Lavers quotes in her foreword that “..each of us can play a role in making the world a better place, no matter where you’re from or how old you are.”.
This is where I hope my books have a role to play – to engage children in a story that provides an important environmental message alongside beautiful illustrations and beautiful creatures.
Kids understand these problems so clearly. For them, such plastic pollution is wrong, and the harm caused is just plain wrong. There are no grey areas – the waffle, the tinkering around the edges by politicians that so infuriates Greta Thunberg.
Yet I also aim to give kids hope. Children’s books need a happy ending – at least for the age range 6 to 9 (or 99!). Katie luckily has a magic glowstone that rids Harry and Basil of their tummy ache and gets the leaders of the world’s economic superpowers to clean up the beach themselves, faced with the prospect of it all being sent to their personal homes! I think Greta would approve…
Kids are our future. A cliché perhaps, but it’s so true and to be honest I worry for them. We need to give them real hope because there is no magic glowstone. My next book will focus on an even bigger challenge – the climate emergency, where Katie has to try and explain climate change to a group of worried seals, walruses and polar bears. Imagine the sadness, the anger, if animals knew this was down to us. Perhaps they do?
As Julia Bradbury says in her foreword to my book, “Children easily identify with animals and sea-life and they are becoming much more aware of man-made pollution and climate change.”
I hope that my heroine Katie will help to inspire the next generation in their own little way.
All proceeds from the book will be donated to the WDC charity.