The children’s chapter book Hatch Saves the Reef, by local author Judith Stutchbury, was officially launched at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery during the school holidays.
Over 200 avid readers and young artists attended the Outdoor Art Room in Gallery Park to celebrate the book launch.
Participants immersed themselves in marine animal art activities and were able to meet Judith and hear more about the captivating adventures of Hatch.
Hatch Saves the Reef is a heart-warming family adventure with the essence being a love for the ocean and its creatures.
Hatch, a sea turtle hatchling, is ready to explore her ocean home however, she encounters artificial light disorientation, coral bleaching and plastic pollution which threaten certain doom to all.
Hatch sets out to save her ocean friends but needs to find the SeaTide Princess to help her.
Bundaberg teacher Judith Stutchbury said she was inspired by a classroom visit in 2017 from Low Glow Collaboration Group of which Disney Australia and New Zealand were members.
“I wrote a full-length feature film screenplay motivated by communicating the reef’s environment problems to a wider community,” Judith said.
Chosen as a finalist and runner up in the University of Southampton UK Green Stories writing competition, this encouraged Judith to convert her movie script into a children’s book.
“Based on my own teaching experiences at Kalkie State School and with the many marine and environmental scientists I’ve met, I included real people and students in my story, some retaining their name, and some, with permission, having a little alteration,” she said.
“The Bundaberg Regional Reef Guardian Council’s Mayor Jack Dempsey has supported many Reef Guardian school activities and inspired the character, Mayor Dampsea.
“Department of Environment and Science Chief Scientific Officer (Turtle Research), and University of Queensland Adjunct Associate Professor, Dr Col Limpus AO, inspired the character Dr Limpet.
“The SeaTide Princess character Hurley, Irish origin meaning Sea tide, is inspired by my niece and previous Junior Turtle Ranger, Hurley Gatley.
“The main character Hatch is inspired by Dr Jane Goodall and the difference she has made to the world.”
Judith channelled her own teaching experiences in the character of Miss Bugalugs who runs the Great Barrier Reef Guardian program at the fictitious Mon Repos State School.
Students she has taught over the last 10 years represent the Reef Guardian students in her book, and those who have taught her their Indigenous and multicultural language greetings feature in the book.
Judith’s daughter Chelsea Stutchbury has released a song, Hear Them, which tells the story of the SeaTide Princess’s confusion over her ability to be the only one who can hear turtles talk.
Australian Band INXS has supported Hatch Saves the Reef and it’s character Betha the turtle who sings passionately about her collision with a boat propellor, using some of the words from the iconic anthem Never Tear Us Apart.
Illustrators Mark Mulgrew and Archie Gatley are both Bundaberg born.
Archie was in year 5 when he drew his illustrations, and Mark, has more than 30 years’ experience in the animation industry. He's living in Los Angeles, California working on animation projects for Netflix and Disney.
Included in the book is information about coral bleaching by Dr David Wachenfeld (formerly GBRMPA Chief Scientist now AIMS), dark skies by Dr Kellie Pendoley (Pendoley Environmental), and plastic pollution by Dr Jennifer Lavers (Adrift Lab), and Anthony Hill (Plastic Pollution Solutions).
All proceeds of the book support student environmental activities and can be purchased online, at Dymocks Bundaberg and Dymocks Chermside, Milbi Café Mon Repos, Tourism Bundaberg and Childers, Hinkler Hall of Aviation, Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery and the State Library of Queensland shop.