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New Children’s Book “The Jaguar’s Story” Inspires Care for Mother Earth

By: for ISKCON News on May 10, 2018
Arts

The jaguar family rest on their journey

The Jaguar’s Story, a brand new children’s book by Kosa Ely (Kosarupa Dasi) about the plight of Jaguars in the Amazon rainforest, was released on April 21st at the Earth Day Festival in Orlando, Florida.

The book, which inspires care for Mother Earth, had its own booth at the festival’s Kids’ Zone, with large posters of its stunning artwork attracting passersby. Kids begged for the book, while parents and grandparents were excited to meet the author and get autographed copies.

Kosarupa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, was also invited to read The Jaguar’s Story at storytelling hour, and received an attentive audience.

Author Kosarupa Dasi (left) and friend Rupini Springer show the book at Earth Day in Orlando

Kosa’s previous children’s books include The Prince and the Polestar, wherein the young Dhruva Maharaja learns the value of spiritual fulfillment over acquiring material possessions; and The Peaceable Forest, about the hunter Mrgari, who learns from the sage Narada about how his actions affect other living beings.

Her new book doesn’t derive from a directly scriptural source, but its values are one many ISKCON devotees will share. It tells the story of Inti and Chasca, two jaguar cubs who live in the Amazon rainforest with their mama. They spend their days making friends with birds and butterflies, swimming in rock pools, and learning to roar. But everything changes the day sky machines and land machines invade their forest. Afraid for their lives, the cubs escape with their mama under the cloak of night. 

As they travel to try to find a safe home, they see habitats razed and animals displaced for pipelines, rivers poisoned from goldmining, and huge sections of forest cleared for farms, to grow food for livestock.

The jaguar family search for a safe place after their home has been destroyed by humans

The book has a happy ending and a sweet story, invoking empathy in its animal characters rather than going too dark with the environmental elements. Its illustrations, by Radha Gendron, who grew up in New Mayapur, France and began painting at the age of four, are vibrant and completely entrancing, pulling the reader into the world of the Amazon. But along with the entertainment value, the book’s message will definitely make an impact on children and their values.

Kosa herself says she has had a “heart connection” with the Amazon rainforest since she was a child. As an adult, she worked with indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest for fourteen years, bringing their medicinal botanicals to market, and volunteering with rainforest and wildlife conservation groups.

She explains that twenty percent of the rainforest has already been destroyed, and we are running out of time to save it. With one fifth of our oxygen and fresh water coming from the Amazon, our entire planet would be in peril without it.

Inti, Chasca and their mother in their rainforest home

“I wanted to do a storybook to bring awareness to children and their families about what’s happening in the Amazon, and ignite a passion within them to become a champion for the rainforest,” she says. “I wrote about jaguars because they’re iconic; the only big cat in the Americas. We name cars and football teams after them, but very few people even know how to recognize them, often confusing them with tigers, leopards and panthers. And they are going extinct – experts estimate that only 10,000 to 15,000 jaguars exist in the wild today.”

Why should ISKCON devotees care about all this? The answer is found in the first verse of Sri Isopanisad: “Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.”

“We’re all guests here, and everything belongs to God, so we don’t have the right to hurt or destroy nature or other species,” Kosarupa says.

One of the little Jaguar cubs follows along behind his mother

Kosa’s message, of course, is one everyone can support, regardless of their belief system. 

“I hope all the teachers, librarians, and parents get behind it,” she says. “It’s really important that we stop the rainforest destruction and save thousands and thousands of species from extinction.”

The Jaguar’s Story has a lot to draw parents and educators: It ends with eight educational pages containing extra information about jaguars and their plight, along with illustrations and descriptions of many different animals and plants in the Amazon. The book comes in a “Jaguar Cub Pack” with an audiobook and a fun activity book filled with connect the dots, spot the difference, mazes, coloring and more that teach about the flora and fauna of the Amazon. 

Two happy young new readers with Kosarupa at Earth Day in Orlando

Walking its talk, The Jaguar’s Story is also printed in Canada on FSC certified paper with vegetable inks. “It was very important to me that this book not hurt any forest,” says Kosarupa.

She adds that if they feel inspired by the book, families can help prevent rainforest destruction by educating themselves and not paying for products that come from animal agriculture, oil drilling, or goldmining. They can also use wood and paper products that are produced sustainably and don’t hurt the environment.

The official Jaguar’s Story website will soon have a “take action” page that will provide more resources for this. The website will also have more educational and activity pages for kids, as well as lesson plans for teachers.

Kosarupa with Liliana, one of the young The Jaguar Story fans

Liliana Danka-DeGasperi, a 7-year-old student at Bhaktivedanta Academy in Alachua where Kosarupa recently held a storytelling hour says that The Jaguar Story is one of her favorites. “I have read the book about eight times. I feel very passionate about protecting animals and the environment, and from this book we can learn a lot. I really love the beautiful pictures, and the activity book that comes with the story is also a lot of fun.”

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Visit the website here: www.TheJaguarsStory.org

Listen to Kosa on The Nature’s Premiere Podcast here: http://naturespremiere.libsyn.com/website/natures-premiere-episode-42-interview-with-childrens-book-author-kosa-ely

Tags:
[ amazon ] [ animal-rights ] [ animals ] [ ely ] [ environment ] [ jaguar ] [ kosha ] [ nature ] [ story ]
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