My newest Florida Keys environmental children’s book, Kiki and Slugger’s Magic Spring Adventure is a story about two friends from the animal kingdom who live on a string of islands in southern Florida known as the Florida Keys. My concept is that Sammy and Scarlett the aquatic heroes of my earlier books Sammy and Scarlett’s Mangrove Adventure and Sammy and Scarlett’s Coral Reef Adventure share an immense ecosystem with our newest heroes, land-based Kiki and Slugger.  

Introducing the new heroes.

Kiki is an endangered Key Deer, and her species must always be on high alert for threats from the world of humans and predators. Slugger on the other hand is a black Labrador dog. He needs his human family, relying on them for his very existence. Despite these different perspectives Kiki and Slugger form a very special friendship. This friendship is based upon their shared belief that some humans want to help the natural world and its wonderful inhabitants.  

All of my books are derived from what I have seen firsthand scuba diving and snorkeling over thirty-plus years in the Florida Keys.

There is a very stark contrast to what the reefs look like now and what they looked like in the early 1990’s. Corals stressed by warmer sea temperatures and increased acidity levels have in many cases ejected their algae which initially causes them to lose color and become bleached. Long-term bleaching eventually kills the corals if there is no relief. Stony coral tissue loss disease has also impacted the reefs of the Keys and the Caribbean basin.

The good news is that all along the length of the Keys, coral restoration is now seen as imperative.

On reefs from Key Largo to Key West scientists, scuba diving professionals and the recreational dive community are diligently working together to make a long-term difference. Lab-grown baby corals are arriving at coral nurseries and being planted on dead reef structures. There is much work to do however, positive momentum is definitely building. My books are meant to help spread the word to young readers and their families that coral reefs need human intervention to survive.   

Shorelines in the Florida Keys are protected against oceanic storm surges by mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs.

These three habitats, like most things in the natural world, are forever intertwined. Life flows between the three and what affects one typically affects all. Between the coral reefs and the mangrove forests lie the seagrass meadows. Like mangrove forests, seagrass meadows are nurseries for young fish. The meadows also filter the surrounding water and help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Seagrass meadows are a vital part of the environmental equation. Experts agree that they are in fact one of the most vital ecosystems on the planet.

It is a fact that dead and dying coral reefs support less marine life and dramatically reduce the catch of fishermen. The same is true where mangrove forests are removed to improve the views for hotels, restaurants, waterfront housing, etc. In the 90s it was common for developers to have contractors remove mangroves to improve views of a property. While some of this still takes place, mangroves are now understood to be vital protection against storm surges. An unobstructed view does little good if the gaps in the mangrove forests allow storm surge into the lobby of a high-end resort. Thankfully, mangroves are also more valued nowadays as the nurseries of the sea. Without them, there is no shelter for baby and juvenile fish. Fewer mangroves mean fewer fish for humans and the marine food chain.

The ocean supports life.

Florida Keys Environmental Children's Book

Most people do not understand that the oceans are literally the life support system for all life on Earth. Each day an estimated 3.5 billion people globally rely on the oceans for their primary source of food. Clouds over the world’s oceans provide rain to replenish the water cycle and provide drinking water for all life on the planet. In addition, the oceans provide one-half of the oxygen on earth while absorbing nearly one-third of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Clearly, the oceans must be protected.

Why I write about the ocean.

All of my books in the Florida Keys environmental children’s book series carry strong messages of hope. They mention the efforts of those striving to be good stewards of this planet. I could not legitimately call Magic Spring Adventure a sequel to the Sammy and Scarlett adventure books. As a result, I remain steadfast that they are three stories from the same environmental neighborhood. The magnificent Florida Keys.  

Robert Andrew Provan is an award-winning children’s author. His mission combines his love of the ocean with storytelling. He captivates young minds with the wonders beneath the waves. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to learn more about his books and upcoming events. Visit his website to see what people are saying about his books and order your own copy.