The story focuses on a magical people called the OUKAS, how they learn about climate change on Earth, and what everyone can do about it.
Ms. Stora-Calté discusses how the idea came about and the positive reception to the book.
What gave you the idea to do a children’s book focusing on climate change?
I’m passionate about sustainable development in general, and climate change in particular. It’s a topic that concerns everyone. No one can say that climate change doesn’t concern them.
The inspiration came from my little cousin, who was then in primary school. One day she asked me what I was doing on my computer, and I told her that I was doing research into climate change. Then my little cousin asked me “What is climate change?”
I was astounded that children weren’t aware about climate change - that there was no explanation about it in primary school. So I said to myself, “It’s time to do something to educate young children about climate change!”
Since I specialized in climate change issues, I had some very marvellous experiences in my work with scientists. So I thought, “What better way to teach young children about climate change and how to take care of the planet, than through a magical children’s story?” The story helps children learn about what they can do themselves to take action against climate change.
What’s the story about?
The story follows a a group of magical creatures called the OUKAS - who live in a fantasy world with fountains of pomegranate syrup, magical lanterns, and candy everywhere - as they travel to Earth for a holiday.
When the OUKAS arrive on Earth, they discover that the planet is experiencing a lot of problems, and they don’t know at first what’s causing them. So they ask the inhabitants of Earth bit by bit to find out what’s happening to the planet, and then they consult a wise elder from their own planet. Eventually they find out what climate change is and the problems that it causes.
In the end, the OUKAS learn that each and every person has the power to act and make a difference in fighting against climate change - no matter how small the action is. Even the small actions children take themselves can add up to make a difference. And the children love it! They, too, can do something!
This is the second edition of the book that’s coming out now. What’s the history behind the second edition?
The first edition came out during the COP 21 in Paris in 2015. I was working with the IPCC, so I knew many climate scientists. In particular, French glaciologist and climatologist Prof. Jean Jouzel (who was co-recipient of the Peace Nobel Prize in 2007) was very impressed with the book. He showed it to his granddaughter, who was fascinated by it. His granddaughter asked Jean Jouzel when she will be able to read the next story of the OUKAS. This is how it came about that he wrote the preface to the first edition.
Following this, other noteworthy people also wanted to add a commentary, including Nicolas Hulot and Alain Hubert, who’s a leading figure in ecological advocacy. As someone who’s passionate about communicating about climate change, Mr. Hubert completely embraces the educational values of my book.
The first edition of the book came out in 2015, with the support of France Nature Environnement, an independent organization. Each page of the book was reviewed by both climate scientists and environmental NGOs to make sure that scientific information mentioned in the book is correct.
Since the French National Commission for UNESCO has started to help raise awareness about climate change to young children, and given that there are very few resources available for raising awareness to very young children (4 to 8 years old), UNESCO agreed to be a partner for the book. So a second edition of the book was released with their label during European Sustainable Development Week (30 May - 5 June 2019).
The original language of the text is in French, but UNESCO is interested in having the book translated into English to help it reach a wider audience. A document of the text of the book translated into English is already available upon request for those who order the book in French.
Very nice interviews in French have been done about the proejct, which are available on the OUKA website in French.
For more information about ordering the book, please visit the OUKA website at www.ouka.fr!