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Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version to reflect that the book's characters live in the Everglades, not the Neverglades, and to clarify that the author wants to raise $100,000 not only to finish illustrating the book but to print the 10,000 copies he wants to give to local schoolchildren.

A snake, two alligators, a bear, a moose, two beavers, an owl and a little yellow bird live in a cartoon Everglades.

They stand — the snake hangs hissing from a tree limb — snarling and looking combative on the cover of what Naples children's author Sabin Johnson hopes will become a force for change.

The moose, from Massachusetts, is named Gronk. The beavers are named Hardy and Mason.

And they've all come from around the country to help Gunther and Gladys Glades defend their Everglades from habitat destruction.

That's the plot of "The Glades," 10,000 copies of which Johnson hopes to distribute to kids 5 to 8 years old in Collier County, not only to teach a conservation ethic but also a lesson in coming together for a common cause.

"I hope it has a pretty big impact," said Johnson, 40, a Navy veteran who has lived in Naples for the past six years.

It was his first book that brought him to the Naples area the first time, for a book signing at Barnes & Noble.

"The Jolly Shop," conceived during his time in an intelligence unit in Iraq, tells the story of a mad scientist named Dr. Cringe who hatches a scheme to ruin Christmas and gets the attention of Santa's elves intent on stopping him.

But it's a long way from the North Pole to the Everglades.

Growing up in Wyoming, Johnson spent a lot of time in the outdoors and came to love nature.

So when he kept reading news about poor water quality, habitat loss and wildlife declines in the Everglades, it got his attention.

"I've got to at least try to do my part," Johnson said.

Johnson's plan is to raise $100,000 through the Community Foundation of Collier County so he can hire Disney artist Corey Wolfe to finish illustrating "The Glades" and print the 10,000 copies. 

The money also would set up a website, GladesGazette.com, named for the newspaper in the story that Gladys Glades uses to spread the word about their plight in their fictional corner of the Everglades.

The website would give students who read the book and go on field trips to the real Everglades a place to post photos and write stories about what they saw, Johnson said.

School district curriculum reviewers have asked Johnson to submit his manuscript for review before a final decision is made about whether to distribute the book to students, district spokeswoman Jennifer Kupiec said.

Community Foundation CEO Eileen Connolly-Keiser said it was an easy decision to host the fund that is raising money for Johnson's project.

"This is an excellent example of people in the community who care about the environment and want the next generation to care as well," she said.

 

 

 

 

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