They gave children’s book a whole new meaning.
Fifth-graders at a Park Slope public school wrote, illustrated, and published a storybook based on the true-life tale of a tiger that fascinated the world after she was left for dead, rescued, and successfully returned to the wild — and the amateur authors’ book is the real deal, according to a wildlife expert who helped with the project.
“They didn’t sugar coat it,” said Jonathan Slaght, a tiger authority at Wildlife Conservation Society who educated the kids about the big cat. “It’s sad, and to some degree violent, but in the end it is a happy story.”
“One Special Tiger,” which Amazon sells for $12, tells the tale of Zolushka, a Siberian tiger who was orphaned by poachers in the Russian wild. Hunters rescued the abandoned feline, who was rehabilitated before being released back into her natural habitat in 2013.
Zolushka took to her environment so well that, when she gave birth to two cubs after being released, she became the world’s first rehabilitated tiger to survive and reproduce in the wild, Slaght said.
The tiger expert visited Park Slope’s PS 107 in January to educate the authors-to-be on Zolushka’s plight, inspiring them to put pen to paper, according to parents.
“He basically got the kids very excited to do this book,” said Katherine Eban, whose daughter Amelia Levenson, 10, helped write the story.
So excited, in fact, that the kids — not unlike your tireless local news reporter — worked through their lunch breaks on the book.
“They did this all during their lunch hours, so they opted to give up their free time to do the project,” Eban said.
Of course, any author is only as good as his or her editor, and the tykes’ parents pitched in to help polish off the final product.
“I would say that without our talented fifth graders, there would not be a book,” Eban said. “But we parents did a lot of editing.”
“One Special Tiger” was published using Amazon’s CreateSpace, the self-publishing arm of the online retailer, which takes a cut of the book’s purchase fee.
All extra profits go the Wildlife Conservation Society — and hopefully will be used towards helping other felines in need, Eban said.
But the book’s real gain is a flourishing crop of wildlife lovers, according to the mom.
“We are aiming to raise a generation of conservationists,” she said. “They are working with real experts, writing about a real animal, and their efforts are benefiting that real animal.”