Author Mary Cerullo and IRW crew were hosted by island resident Pat Lundholm for their visit to the Vinahlaven School which often includes an overnight stay, while longtime IRW friend Sue Dempster put on a wonderful potluck gathering where teachers and the IRW crew shared food and stories — mostly about books. Go figure!
The day of the visit began in the auditorium with grades K-5. Mary’s presentation included wonderful sea creature photos and lots of stories to share with the children. Many hands were being raised and students had good comments and questions for Mary.
To the pre-K students, Mary read a new book she is working on that isn’t yet published. The children were attentive listeners as they listened to this never-before heard story! And Mary got some good feedback from her audience. It was a pretty special experience.
Second and third graders had read her book, “Sea Secrets,” and Mary asked, “What do you know about climate change?” A student answered, “It’s the problem for everything!” Mary mentioned how warmer waters are more acidic and its general effects on marine life. A student asked, “Do lobster shells get affected by acidic water?” This kid was thinking about the impact on the vital fishing industry, which is integral to life on Vinalhaven. Every student shared a fact about the sea animals they were studying. One student shared, “Starfish have lots of birthdays!”
Kindergarteners and first graders had read “City Fish, Country Fish,” a meaty book for such youngsters but their enthusiasm was great. Mary asked the children why they would choose to be a country fish. Here are a few responses: “I like the colors.” “I could eat whenever I wanted.” “I like to hide in the rocks!”
Grades four and five had read and worked with “Sea Secrets.” Mary asked what the secret was and all the children shouted, “krill!” These kids knew their stuff, partly due to a recent visit to the Gulf of Maine Institute. They had done food web studies, chosen habitats to explore, and made posters about them.
While Mary shared about climate change and its particular impacts on the Gulf of Maine, she suggested the children talk to their grandparents and parents and ask them if they noted changes in the waters and marine life around Vinalhaven during their lifetimes. She then had them play a bingo game about marine animals and asked if each one was a winner or loser when it comes to climate change. The session ended when fourth grade teacher Rob Warren played two cartoon videos that Mary explained were created by O’Chang Comics. The students loved the humor and laughed out loud while watching “A Climate Calamity in the Gulf of Maine: The Lobster Pot Heats up” and “Part 2: Acid in the Gulf.”
Each Vinalhaven student loved receiving their own signed copies of her books. They all opened them immediately and were sharing with each other as they talked about the pictures and discussing the what they had learned that day!