Sea Stories for Youth

The following “Sea Stories” are book projects, at various stages of completion, for which I am seeking support and publication opportunities.

For inquiries and more information, please email me at alanruizberman@gmail.com.

I. “Ridley’s Journey Home” 

Ridley swims into a school of moon jellies (Aurelia aurita). Original paper art & mixed media illustration by Alan Ruiz.

Ridley’s Journey Home” is a children’s story that follows a hatchling olive ridley sea turtle, aptly named Ridley, in his first weeks of life as he ventures from his hatchling beach to his final home in the open ocean. During his daunting quest, Ridley meets a colorful variety of ocean folk and learns many important life lessons that will help him survive as a mature turtle.

In addition to encouraging young minds to face the unknown with a bold heart and a curious mind, this book aims to inspire learning and conservation surrounding endangered sea turtles and the oceans in general. The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the smallest of the world’s seven sea turtle species and gets its name from the olive-green color of its heart-shaped carapace, or shell. It is also the most abundant and widespread of the world’s seven sea turtle species – making it the perfect representative for all our globally endangered sea turtles.

Importantly, this book includes an illustrated appendix of relevant facts about sea turtles and their habitats, as well as about the many threats that humanity poses to them, and marine life in general. The story is written in simple language that a child of four years and upward can easily understand, and is intended to be a fun and short read (~20 pages) with captivating and informative illustrations.

II. “The Sociable Sea Lion Pup, A Story About Making Freinds” 

The Sociable Sea Lion Pup, A Story About Making Friends” is a playful story that introduces young readers to two charismatic marine mammals – the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) and the Northern Pacific Sea otter (Enhydra lutris), as well as to their marine habitat – the rocky reefs, giant kelp forests, and cold and productive waters that can be found along the northern California coast. A fun book, primarily for youth (K+), the story delivers an important moral: “Be persistent and enthusiastic when trying to make new friends.” I also aim to inspire civic participation in protecting endangered species and the marine environment as a whole.

In an increasingly isolated and technologically dictated world, this story encourages youth to be open to fostering meaningful relationships with others who are unlike them. Leveraging the widespread popularity of sea lions and sea otters, this book also showcases Monterey Bay, a biodiversity hotspot in the northern Pacific Ocean, and the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium Gift Shop would be an ideal point of sale, as would any store that deals in ocean themes. I also plan to include an approximately four-page illustrated appendix with species and ecosystem descriptions and a “call to action” for conservation.

III. “What Do Mermaids Do All Day?” 

What Do Mermaids Do All Day?” is a playful story, for kids and adults alike, that celebrates the wisdom of elders and the magic of marine biodiversity. What is more, I use the metaphorical Mermaid, a mystical water woman who is analogous to our mother ocean, to celebrate the wild, free, mysterious, and intangible nature of the feminine spirit.

Furthermore, this book introduces young readers to 50 marine species with fun and literary common names, such as the “balloon fish,” “trumpet fish,” and “carpet shark.” Each of these will be described and elaborated in an illustrated appendix.

This book is for anyone with a love of mermaids, nautical themes, sea lore, diving, snorkeling, marine ecology, fish, sea turtles, and the ocean in general. Aquarium gift shops would be an ideal point of sale for this book, as would any seaside store that deals in ocean themes.

IV. “Keko and the Sea Turtles of Playa Corozalito”

My protagonist, Keko, bikes to his local surf beach – a biodiversity hotspot with an abundance of nesting sea turtles.

This intimate family story is written primarily for middle-school-age youth, including in Costa Rica and other Tropical, developing nations, and aims to inspire civic action around the conservation of sea turtles, with an emphasis on protecting nesting beaches, and more broadly, around protecting our planet’s living heritage.

The plot follows a protagonist named Keko, a young Tico, or Costa Rican, from the province of Guanacaste, on a learning journey surrounding his local surf beach – a local arribada (mass nesting) site for three species of endangered sea turtles. By interacting with international volunteers who have come to study his local sea turtles, Keko comes to appreciate just how special and unique his environment is in the context of global marine conservation goals.

By the end of this heartwarming story, Keko becomes a local conservation activist and convinces his grandfather to stop consuming sea turtle eggs, a traditional practice that contributes greatly to the exploitation of nesting beaches and that is no longer a sustainable practice.

The narrative is crafted around my rich experience working as a Field Coordinator for Pacific Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches for PRETOMA, a nonprofit organization with a progressive model that involves collaborative field science, political advocacy, local education, and community outreach. In addition to landing powerful conservation messages, this book introduces the reader to the nuances of Costa Rican culture, which comprises a mix of African, Indigenous, Spanish, and local traditions.

I will include an illustrated appendix on sea turtle biology, key conservation topics, and information about Costa Rican vernacular and culture. The book is also dedicated to Jairo Mora Sandoval, a young sea turtle conservationist from Playa Limón, Costa Rica, who in 2013 was murdered by members of a criminal organization for bringing attention to environmental advocacy and activism.