Well-known Kodiak author Stacy Studebaker has published her third children's book “Beaver’s Song,” a poetic view into the busy lives of Earth's most industrious rodent engineers and water guardians.
The book illustrates the ecological significance of beavers through metered rhyming poetry and colorful illustrations. The book highlights the notion that beavers are “guardians of groundwater” and important to the ecosystem, said the author, who is a naturalist and retired biology teacher.
“Damming up the streams and creating these marvelous wetlands increases the biodiversity in the (beaver) areas,” Studebaker said. “Beaver areas are so much more biodiverse because they provide habitat for aquatic animals, aquatic plants, insects and fish.”
Her book also highlights the unique adaptations beavers have to live on land and in water, build dams and protect themselves from predators. These include orange teeth, two sets of lips, nose flaps, and a multi-use tail, she said.
The book’s vibrant artwork, drawn by artist Kay Underwood, helps bring these scientific facts to life.
“I could not have been so successful without Kay’s brilliance,” Studebaker said in a news release. “We decided to highlight the biology of animals and plants and represent them as accurately as possible, stressing the science where possible.”
Studebaker said the book’s prose — as well as the poems in her other two children’s books — is based on music she recorded in the 1990s with her band Waterbound on the album “Alaska Animal Tales and Tunes.”
Although she conducted a lot of research about beavers for her album, through her research on beavers in recent years she learned how they are being used to fight droughts.
“Dry valleys now with beavers being introduced, are wet and green again,” Studebaker said.
Before the Europeans arrived in America, the beaver could be found in most ponds and rivers across North America and Canada, she said.
But within a couple hundred years, the estimated population of more than 400 million beavers was reduced to around 100,000 due to a voracious desire for beaver skins, she said.
The furs were used for pelts and felt.
“Beaver’s Song” along with her other books are published by Sense of Place Press, a company she runs and operates herself. With her first children's book, “Hey Bear, Ho Bear” in its seventh printing, and “Octopus in the Outhouse” in its third printing, Studebaker said she has her hands full.
“Hey Bear, Ho Bear” was also selected for the reading list of the Alaska Battle
of the Books contest last year, which boosted sales, she said. She expects the book to go into its eighth printing next spring.
Alaska Geographic, a company that runs gift shops within public lands visitors centers all over the country, is one of her biggest customers. She sells thousands of books through them, Studebaker said.
She will sell her books at upcoming events including The American Association of University Women Bazaar on Nov. 9; Story Time at the Alutiiq Museum on Nov. 16, where she will do a reading of “Beaver’s Song”; an evening author’s talk at the Kodiak Public Library on Nov. 18; the Alutiiq Museum Bazaar on Dec. 7; and Last Chance Bazaar on Dec. 20.
Her books can also be found in 13 stores across the city as well as two stores out of town: Larsen Bay Mercantile and the Alitak cannery.
Her books can be found in the following locations: Cost Savers, Light and Variable, Orion’s, Big Ray’s, Sea Hawk Air, Discover Kodiak, the History and Alutiiq Museums, Monk’s Rock, Kodiak Smokehouse, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and Norman’s Fine Gifts.