A local author has recently self-published an illustrated novel, “The Secret World of Yondhaven,” which takes middle school-aged readers through a magical world that explores issues related to climate change and environmental consciousness.
Written by Irene Wellman and illustrated by Gwendolyn Gribok Lipari, Wellman’s fantasy adventure features Ashley, 12, and Joshua, 9, who follow a mysterious ball into the strange world of Yondhaven, which is threatened by pollution and invaded by pollution-based monsters called Orts.
Along their journey, they encounter a world filled with both real and magical beings. The world is populated with endangered animals that have escaped from Earth and creatures like mermaids, unicorns, a large, talking guinea pig and a cat metropolis.
Wellman, an Afton resident, described her book as being full of adventure and humor, blending light-hearted elements with more serious themes and issues. She said she hopes her book can introduce these issues to middle school-aged children and create a dialogue between kids and their parents.
She added she was influenced by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
“Even though I started this story when my daughter was 8 in the Reagan era, I finished it because I felt like we were reaching that point where children had to be more and more aware of what was happening,” Wellman said. “This is another way of giving them something to think about, but not in a heavy-handed way.”
Wellman, a former teacher and reading specialist, said she wanted to create a story that could appeal to young readers while also crafting a story that explored her passion for the environment and environmental causes.
“Its just been something I’ve been interested in all my life. It’s a growing concern,” Wellman said. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work on it [climate change] and that’s encouraging, so I hope this book has a very encouraging message at the end. What we need to do is go forward.”
Wellman said her favorite moments in the book were her “city of cats” and a moment when the kids connect with a humpback whale.
“The Secret World of Yondhaven” published in May. It is available on Amazon or from Ash Haven Books. People may also reach out to Wellman directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellman and other local authors will have a signing event June 19 at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton.