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New book about orcas for the Squamish marine lover in the family

Children's book aims to teach children about conservation.

Do you have a budding marine biologist in the house? Or a Squamish little who loves scanning Howe Sound for orcas?

If so, this may be a book to pick up.

I am 99: A Southern Resident Orca Story, by Keri Newman was recently released and is aimed at kids in Kindergarten to Grade 3.

It is part of a series of Twisted Orca children's books by Newman that focuses on marine conservation.

The story introduces readers to a new baby Southern Resident Orca (99).

The young human in the story, Sailor-Lyn loves killer whales and soon learns that there are only 70-odd whales left [as of this publication, there are 75], so she makes a promise to help save them from extinction.

The 31-paged paperback book includes a 99 Pledge to Save the Southern Residents and Whale Hero Certificate at the back.

Though she lives in Rhode Island, Newman has always been interested in the whales that visit our waters.

"I saw my first killer whale when I was very young. My family had taken a trip to Washington," said Newman, adding her childhood passion was the southern residents.

Sailor-Lyn is loosely based on Newman, who went to school for marine biology but switched to English and communications after she had her daughter.

It is that daughter, Ashton Alba, who did all the vivid illustrations for the book.

"She is an artist and illustrates all the books and creates all the characters," Newman said.

"She is so talented — I can not draw a stick figure. I can't draw a whale. But she is amazing... She really brings them to life."

She said she hopes Squamish kids understand that there is more that they can do to help the orcas after reading the book.

"Right now, I know there is a lot of talk in the media about their status — their endangered status. I want to empower them. So, when they take that 99 pledge, it will empower them to hear it and take action and ownership."

On her website, Newman also has classroom kits for teachers.

It includes a pdf of the book, colouring and activities sheets and fact sheets.

Newman is currently donating her services to put together a brochure about responsible boating and whale watching and hopes to turn all that she has learned through that process into a follow-up children's book.

"We love them and want to save them, but sometimes we end up hurting what we love," she said.

Find out more about I am 99: A Southern Resident Orca Story, published by Stillwater Press, on the Twisted Orca site.

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