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Reviews, Testimonials and Interviews

ResQ in Panamá: Can We Save the Frogs?

ResQ Hops to the Rescue

Cousins Stowe and Wheaton are swinging into action again. The duo who saved a baby orangutan in Borneo and endangered horses in Mongolia take on their biggest challenge yet in Eva J. Pell’s latest book for young readers, “ResQ in Panamá: Can We Save the Frogs?” 

The teens are part of ResQ, an organization they founded with their grandmother, a wildlife photographer, to help save endangered animals. While vacationing in Panama, Stowe and Wheaton meet a pair of college students who are collecting frog specimens in the Darién Gap. Naturally, they offer their services. Unlike their previous rescues, which were the result of habitat destruction and human misbehavior, this time there’s a natural threat: a fungus that is attacking and killing the frogs. 

Wheaton once again lends his precocious technical expertise to the mission, transporting the team in the HeliBoaJee device he invented that can morph from a helicopter to a boat to a Jeep. He also plies some innovative ideas about 3D printing and miniature wind farms—and even creates a pair of computerized glasses that help Stowe with her dyslexia.

Meanwhile, Stowe, as in the previous books, serves as recorder, detailing their adventures in the log she keeps as part of her home-school assignment. She also expounds on a variety of topics that pique her interest, such as the indigenous wildlife, the impact of deforestation, and the plight of the refugees navigating the dangerous terrain.

Together with the students, they capture enough endangered frogs to start a breeding program back in the lab and survey trees to help save the dwindling rainforest. “This was a ResQ mission with a lot of rescues,” Stowe observes. Determined “to help save our planet,” Stowe and Wheaton represent a generation faced with a formidable task. In Eva Pell, they’ve found an impassioned advocate. Here’s hoping her ResQ adventures, created to captivate and inspire young readers, will also move them to action. They may be our best hope.

Karen Lyon, Author Coordinator | Literary Hill BookFest | |

Literary Editor | The Hill Rag | www.HILLRAG.COM

 Here We Go!

A trio of cousins, ages 5-13, are with the younger children’s parents in Panama, Central America. The parents, working on an architectural project and the kids, homeschooled, are able to check out their amazing surroundings as time permits. They meet two college students from South America doing research for a frog rescue project. The students relate amphibians are dying all over the world, “especially frogs, toads and salamanders.” That’s important, among other reasons, “because frogs eat lots of bugs, including mosquitoes.”
The cousins share they are part of an organization called ResQ. This group does work helping save endangered species. And the adventure takes off – Max, age 5, is too young to go all the time, but he does get to help. Their grandmother, head of the organization, brings ResQ’s amazing assist vehicle -part helicopter, part boat and part Jeep or HBJ – which helps in so many ways and is sometimes driven by Wheaton (the 11-year old). Stowe, age 13, keeps a wonderful log/diary of their time, which relays their adventures to her parents back home and is a great example to kids of the idea that it is okay to express themselves, and writing can be a good vehicle for it.
This book may seem a bit far-fetched at first glance, but it is not. It’s a great addition to a home book collection and enjoyed by the whole family. If it sounds like I loved it, I did!
Gail Hedrick, Kid-lit author/writer


 Amphibian Rescue!

Young teens venture into the heart of the Darien Gap on a mission to find frogs in danger of extinction from the amphibian chytrid fungus that has been sweeping though the tropics and devastating amphibian populations. This modern-day amphibian pandemic sets the scene for an animal rescue adventure as young cousins Stowe and Wheaton seek to help rescue frogs in danger of extinction. The story carries the reader through an intricate and scientifically-accurate backdrop as they navigate some larger geographical themes and challenges facing conservationists today. The young adventurers discover some rare and endangered amphibians and take them to a conservation breeding center in Panama. The tale is loosely based on real-life experiences of conservationists working at the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center as they battle the pandemic and race to find a cure for the disease. If your young teen likes animals, jungles and oodles of science, this book is the place to find it.

Brian Gratwicke, Wildlife Ecologist


 Fantastic Eco-Adventure for Young Readers

Once again, Eva Pell creates an imaginative and clever adventure tale that shines a light on nature, inventive technology, indigenous cultures, and fun science learning. Her main characters are curious, smart, with individual quirks and like all kids they make mistakes to learn from. With jaguars and crocodiles along with a diversity of fascinating frogs, Pell integrates a wealth of scientific knowledge that enhances the storytelling. Readers also get to experience Panamanian culture through vivid descriptions of village life, traditional foods, and the inclusion of Spanish language phrases. This is a wonderful book for educational use in the classroom, for homeschool, and a great read for kids interested in nature, rescuing wildlife, science, adventure, travel, and super cool technology.

Ellen Prager, Marine Scientist and Author


An empowering adventure for curious, thoughtful, and motivated kids!

Join the ResQ team on another fantastic adventure! Wheaton and Stowe — curious, smart, and motivated cousins who form the core of Team ResQ — embark on an effort to save endangered frog species from a deadly infectious disease. Following their arrival at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Wheaton and Stowe join two graduate students on their journey to the dangerous Darien, where their adventure unfolds in unexpected ways. Follow along as the members of Team ResQ evacuate a rare, majestic Harpy Eagle, invent new decoding gadgets and 3-D frog decoys, persevere in tropical rainstorms, and even escape a crocodile!
Strongly rooted in real-life science, but with a dash of fictional magic, Eva J. Pell places her lovable, brainy characters in true-to-life settings where they learn about real-world challenges and how to innovate and problem solve. ResQ in Panama intertwines the fundamentals of scientific fields, such biology and geology, with climate science and humanitarian challenges. This story takes preteens on an empowering adventure that reveals how they can contribute to the practical, and the fantastical, solutions that will help save endangered species as well as our planet.

Jamie Voyles, Wildlife Ecologist


 Exciting book for middle schoolers

As a fan of Eva Pell’s previous science-adventure novel, ResQ and the Baby Orangutan, I was eager to read this book. This time, Ms. Pell takes the reader to Panama to save endangered frogs. Not only is the science fascinating, but I loved being taken away to this exotic location in a Panama jungle with the dedicated and adventurous cousins, Wheaton and Stowe. The writing is engaging, and descriptions are vivid. A must-read for lovers of science, ecology, adventure, travel…and frogs!

Rachelle Burk, Children’s Author

It’s Science to the ResQ…again!

Wheaton, Stowe, Max, and their fellow ResQ team members continue their odyssey to help save some of the most endangered animals on earth.  The highly invasive chytrid fungus is wiping out entire species of frogs, and the ResQ team is in a race against time to save wild frogs before they are lost forever.  As readers of this series know, this isn’t a typical children’s book.  I lost count of how many disciplines were covered, but a few included genetics, geography, botany, disease ecology, veterinary medicine, engineering, geology, paleontology and conservation biology!  The storyline was enriched by weaving in social and cultural elements of Central American life, including touching on sensitive subjects like immigration and social injustice.  And there’s an interesting integration of what it’s like to have dyslexia, and how hard work can help to overcome one’s personal obstacles. As the story clearly articulates, nature and biodiversity are under great threat.  The ResQ stories are fun adventures, to be sure, but they also highlight young people who possess a solutions-based mindset who seek to make a difference by combining their passion for science and exploration with their mission to help save nature.  What’s not to like about that?

Steve Monfort, Executive Director, California Nature Reserve System, University of California System

Captivating and Educational Book

This book has a wonderful story while also being amazingly informative! Young people reading this will learn about how scientific research works, and about frogs and toads native to Panama- as well as many other cool critters like bullet ants. They will also learn about the problems that amphibians are currently facing- specifically chytrid fungus - all presented in an accessible way. Reading this, I wished I'd had books like this as a young person to better understand the natural world through a truly immersive experience.

Felicity Muth, PhD, Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin & Children's Author

ResQ Takes on the Takhi

The ResQ team is at it again!   After a successful maiden voyage to save orangutans in Borneo, cousins Wheaton and Stowe are off to Mongolia, along with grandmother Ariella to help locate and save a lost harem of wild horses, the endangered Takhi.   Building off Ariella's previous connections and friendships in Mongolia and drawing on their love of nature, inquisitive spirits and scientific knowledge, the team is able to quickly partner with their Mongolian colleagues for the rich and rewarding adventure before them.  During their travels they apply their ingenuity in developing a drone which locates the missing animals, while subsequently inventing an additional device to herd the Takhi.  The adventure incorporates important geographic and cultural references, accentuated with beautiful illustrations. All elements combine for a delightful story in which the reader encounters critical lessons about science and natural history while rooting for this innovative team. This is truly a rich and adventurous read, sure to inspire and encourage young conservationists. 

Suzan Murray-Chief Wildlife Veterinary Medical Officer and Program director of Smithsonian's Global Health Program


"A young genius technology whiz and his naturalist cousin journey around the globe to save endangered wildlife in the new series by Eva Pell, former Under Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution. Intended for readers ages 9 through 12, the first two books include adventures in Indonesian Borneo, ResQ and the Baby Orangutan, and Mongolia, ResQ Takes on the Takhi.
Pell conceived of these books when her own grandkids asked for adventure stories. And the stories are page-turning fun, full of adventures and science-fiction level technology. But as an accomplished scientist, Pell gets the details right, whether describing biological concepts, conservation issues or cultures.
Even the seemingly fantastical technology employed by the protagonists have their inspiration from the Materials Research Institute at Penn State.
The books educate on a wide variety of issues, but young readers will hardly notice as they enjoy the adventures. They're perfect for home schooling, good reads that provide a means to discuss deeper environmental issues and the role of technology.

Matthew L. Miller, Director of Science Communications for The Nature Conservancy, editor of the Cool Green Science blog and author of Fishing Through the Apocalypse


"Hello, Emergency Service for the Rescue of Endangered Species," announces Stowe. With her cousin Wheaton listening in on speakerphone, she hears the director of a wildlife preservation project in Mongolia asking for their help. It seems a harem of endangered horses known as takhi has strayed out of the national park where they are part of a breeding and reintroduction program. If they're not found, it would mean that their valuable genes could be lost forever. Sounds like a job for ResQ!
     "ResQ Takes on the Takhi" is the second in a series of novels for middle schoolers by Eva J. Pell that follows the adventures of pre-teens Stowe and Wheaton and their grandmother, wildlife photographer Ariella. Together they form ResQ, an organization committed to saving animals being threatened with extinction. The first book, "ResQ and the Baby Orangutan," found the trio in the jungles of Borneo, battling illegal loggers and animal traffickers in pursuit of baby Buddy, who got lost after his mother was shot
     This time around, the rescuers contend with a blinding Mongolian snowstorm as well as wolves and frigid temperatures to locate and herd the endangered horses back to the preserve. Happily, they're aided in their mission by a local teen who's not only a crack horsewoman but is also happy to share her expertise on the terrain, weather, and plant and animal life of her native country.
    Stowe shares her newfound knowledge with readers via her logs, which touch upon everything from the dynamics of extinction to the food, culture, and language of Mongolia. Meanwhile, genius Wheaton's improvisational engineering skills, along with his amazing inventions--including the Dynochute, which transported them there, and the Finder, which acts as a scent-seeking drone--provide an intriguing sci-fi element (and frequently save the day).
     All told, as Wheaton admits, "ResQ's pretty good at finding missing animals." To which Stowe adds her rallying cry: "Every animal counts!" 

--Karen Lyon, Literary Editor, HillRag, Washington DC







For additional reviews see what Book Critic Bloggers have to say:

ResQ and the Baby Orangutan

"...reaches ages 9-12 with a vivid story set in Indonesia and centered around animal rescue efforts, adding a dash of added sci-fi to keep the tale especially engrossing.


Mattias Lanas adds black and white drawings to enhance the story of boy genius Wheaton and his nature-loving cousin Stowe, who embark on their first adventure in their animal rescue organization when they fly their modified space shuttle to Borneo to find a missing baby orangutan, helped by a grandmother equally determined to influence a successful rescue mission.


Eva J. Pell incorporates the atmosphere of Indonesia's jungles and peoples as she presents this vivid story, adding a realistic feel to events that swirl around people and animals [...].


These elements help ground a story that also changes its perspectives to add [...] notes from Stowe's journal of observations, which are a fine contrast to Wheaton's reasoned first-person narration of events in Borneo and journeys through Indonesia.


The result is a powerful story that invites preteens to learn more about Indonesia and illegal animal trafficking. Its facts are based on firsthand accounts of those familiar with both orangutans and Borneo, and this reality enhances an adventure that will not only entertain, but educates."


 -- Diane Donovan, Editor, Midwest Book Review California Bookwatch. 


To the ResQ of Endangered Species

"Wheaton is pulling his cousin Stowe out of hip-deep mud when they get an SOS from Indonesia. A mother orangutan has been shot and her baby is missing. Sounds like a job for ResQ, the Emergency Service for the Rescue of Endangered Species that they founded with their grandmother, a famous wildlife

photographer. So off they soar in their ECAPS solar jet with their HeliBoaJee (helicopter/boat/jeep combo) on board, both inventions courtesy of Wheaton’s crack engineering skills. But first, they have to make a phone call. Even with grandma along, an 11- and 12-year old can hardly go halfway around the world without checking with their moms, right?

“ResQ and the Baby Orangutan” is the first in a projected series of books for middle schoolers by Eva J. Pell, former Smithsonian Undersecretary for Science, that addresses the crisis of endangered animals. Illustrated by Mattias Lanas, the adventure series features futuristic high-tech wizardry—including a drone that acts like a bloodhound to track down poached animals—and exotic locations, as well as evergreen lessons about nature, science, and math. There are even fact-filled diversions on culture, language, and food.

But the educational bits, informative as they are, never get in the way of the compelling rescue mission, which finds the ResQ team—with the help of a local Indonesian boy whose skills and derring-do more than match their own—battling chainsaw-wielding illegal loggers and criminal traffickers who are trying to smuggle baby Buddi out of Borneo. It’s an exciting read with an engaging pair of precocious main characters (Wheaton has already graduated from college and is headed for grad school). They are, nonetheless, still kids, and while they are consumed with a passion for rescuing animals, they have a lot to learn about the world. “When we flew over here, I thought this would be straightforward,” muses Wheaton as they depart the island. “I guess there’s a lot more to ResQ than just a simple rescue,”

---- Karen Lyon, Literary Editor, HillRag, Washington DC


"When lives of baby orangutans are at stake, turn to the ResQ for help! ResQ is an endangered animal rescue organization, lead by a passionate scientist named Ariella and assisted by her talented grandchildren Weaton and Stowe. The current mission involves heading to Borneo in search of captured orangutan babies before poachers harm or sell them. There is plenty of danger to navigate for Weaton, an inventor of amazing futuristic tech devices, and Stowe, a naturalist and athlete. As they journey, we read excerpts of Stowe’s log to learn the natural and cultural history of the area and grapple with the environmental consequences for deforestation versus conservation. With each new wrinkle and danger, the cousins need all of their skills to get out alive and complete the mission! This new series by Eva Pell will encourage inquiry and open imagination as science and technology mesh with mystery and adventure, saving one animal at a time!

THOUGHTS: This new series is from a local author with high qualifications. Eva Pell is a Retired Undersecretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution as well as Emeritus Sr. Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School, Penn State University. I am excited to have her into my school to work with students and families on this book! There are STEAM connections throughout the book, and ample writing and discussion opportunities that could enhance the story experience."

From goodreads/ Dustin's review



"How often does a book accurately introduce young readers to the biology of endangered species and tropical forests, to engineering, and to a different language and culture and at the same time feature high adventure and fantastic inventions? Eva Pell brings the thorough research skills and care for detail of a scientist to an exciting and engaging tale of baby orangutan ResQ."- Kathryn Fuller, President Emerita World Wildlife Fund


“ResQ and the Baby Orangutan” is the first exciting adventure in a planned series brimming with fun science, astounding inventions, and a great character-driven story. Eleven-year-old college graduate inventor, Wheaton Ivan Guinto and his twelve-year-old amateur naturalist cousin, Stowe LeBlond are the pre-teen two thirds of the ResQoperation, with their shared grandmother, professional photographer Ariella Gordon.  The reader quickly roots for Wheaton and Stowe, the Indonesian characters at the Gunung Palung National Park, and even the orangutans, mom Bella and baby Buddi. The danger from the poachers is as real in the book as it is for the actual orangutans of Borneo. Eva Pell’s joy of science shines through in every chapter, and especially in Stowe’s clever Log, written as a mom-required homeschool assignment while on her adventures."—Steven Herb, Director Emeritus, Pennsylvania Center for the Book



“Get ready for an Indonesian adventure with the ResQ team!  Join the precocious and brilliant Wheaton (11-yrs old) and his cousin Stowe (12-yrs old), accompanied by their incredibly patient and extremely “cool” grandmother, Ariella, for a trip to the wilds of Borneo.  From a hydrogen-powered space ship (ECAPS) to a futuristic HeliBoaJee (helicopter/boat/jeep), Eva Pell has created a fun-filled conservation adventure grounded in the reality of species in peril, and infused with a sense of urgency and action aimed at saving them.  And along the way the reader will learn about the life history of orangutans, the threats to their survival, and about the people working hard to stem the tide of their extinction.  I’m looking forward to following the future far-flung adventures of this dynamic team as they travel the world seeking to apply the best science to save some of the rarest species on planet earth.”—Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.



"Orangutans are amazing animals, among our closest relatives in the wild kingdom, yet striking in their size and hairy orange appearance. And they live in an incredible tropical forest habitat in Indonesian Borneo.

But orangutans are endangered by habitat loss due to palm oil plantations, poaching for the pet trade and other human activities.

Dr Eva Pell, an experienced scientist in her own right, has created a fun adventure to save orangutans with a genuine, fact-filled story told through the eyes of an 11-year-old genius and his very bright naturalist cousin. Together, they travel with their scientist-grandmother via advanced spaceship technology to Borneo to rescue a baby orangutan separated from its mother, just like adult experts currently do using traditional travel methods. Dr Pell creatively brings the reader a true image of tropical Borneo and its wild places and wild creatures through maps and vivid descriptions of plants and animals, and the science behind advanced technologies, often via cousin Stowe’s journal entries. And Stowe and tech wizard Wheaton have a Bornean collaborator who is their same age, and the kids are brave, innovative and tenacious in their attempts to reunite the orangutans. Their grandmother, who mirrors Dr Pell in her extensive knowledge and brilliance, accompanies the kids on this adventure and offers adult influence and support. As the kids deal with vehicle-sucking bogs, aggressive poachers and nervous orangutan young and mother, we follow them on their very timely quest through the rainforest. This book is a fun read for kids, and could be used by parents and teachers to discuss endangered species conservation or contemporary issues in international social studies and economics. It is a good adventure story!"—Dr Don Moore, Director, Oregon Zoo and Senior Science Advisor/Smithsonian Institution

Reviewer of Silver Dolpjin/Readers Digest and author kidlit




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