By AMANDA PROSCIA
Capital News Service
A beaver family’s reappearance near the Detroit River after the species’ disappearance more than a century ago inspired a book that appeals to both adults and children alike.
Author and illustrator Gerald Wykes tells the story of the beaver family’s 2008 astonishing return in his book, “A Beaver Tale: The Castors of Conners Creek” (Wayne State University Press, $18.99)
Beavers appeal to children and adults alike, according to Wykes, who lives in Monroe, Michigan.
“Beavers alter their environment to fit their needs, like people do, so it’s easy for readers to identify with them,” he said.
His full-color illustrations and kid-friendly text create an easy-to-follow narrative of the discovery of beavers at the Conners Creek Power Plant on Detroit’s east side after residents noticed trees being mysteriously cut down.
On the surface, it’s a children’s book, but Wykes’ storytelling is highly informative, even for adults. The illustrations, done in acrylic, achieve a watercolor look, making the text easily digestible for all ages.
“I wanted to make the language of nature and voices of history easy to understand, but I didn’t want to have to put a beaver in overalls to do it,” Wykes said.
The book encompasses the beaver family’s return to Detroit, the history of the rich fur trade in the area and facts about beavers.
It also contains an environmentally optimistic subtext within the narrative of the beaver family’s return to a previously ill-suited environment.
“There’s an ecological story that this presents,” Wykes said. “Environmental damage is reversible. The beaver story is an example of that.”