Hope and fun take the place of fear and despair, in the Lund-produced Steve and Eve Save the Planet: I Can Hear Your Heart Beep
In 2015, Paul Shore took his eight-year-old daughter to test drive an electric vehicle. It was their first time in one. Instead of the usual grrrrrs and coughs of a gasoline-fuelled engine, the car gurgled and hummed – like it was delighted.
Back at the dealership, Jashia stepped out, wrapped her arms around the hood, and hugged the car. She said it had a “heart beep.”
“As adults, we tend to lose sight of the subtle things in life. Things she was noticing,” said Paul. “She loved that this car wasn’t stinky or hot. She felt it was more like a pet.”
The electrical engineer and part-time Lundie had already published two books: the children’s book Bobsleigh Jellybeans: Kindness Wins and the travel memoir Uncorked: My year in Provence studying Pétanque, discovering Chagall, drinking Pastis, and mangling French.
“I really had the writing bug and now had a new idea, thanks to Jashia,” Paul said.
Soon after, he and a friend and fellow writer, Deborah Katz Henriquez, started working on a manuscript about a living electric car and a polar bear who team up to change the world by spreading kindness. The format would eventually be a 215-page graphic novel: Steve and Eve Save The Planet: I Can Hear Your Heart Beep.
All they needed next was an artist to help bring it to life.
A friend and fellow Lundie, Greenpeace project manager Charlie Latimer, introduced them to Lund-based illustrator Prashant Miranda, and the rest is history, sort of. Really, it’s just blooming this month. The book has been published, and the crew are currently launching it at a series of parties and TV appearances in Vancouver, Powell River (May 6) and in Lund (May 7, see calendar for details, right). It’s on the “local books” shelf at Pollen Sweaters, and available on Amazon. You can read more about it at savetheplanetbook.com.
The team has big goals. Bigger than the book.
“We’re trying to capture kids’ imaginations in a manner that gives them hope in the climate change era,” explained Paul, who is a father of two. “There’s so much doom and gloom that these young people exist in. We’re using this platform to cultivate hope and a sense of opportunity – to uplift and entertain and have some fun. As parents, we wear the pressure to talk with our kids about this scary stuff and we hope this book gives them a tool to make that task easier.”
Prashant doesn’t have children, though has made children’s media his whole adult life, from curricular work at a Waldorf School in India, to animation studios in Toronto. He illustrated several children’s books, including If There Was One Place I Could Be (The World of Anahi and Vir) (2011) and While I’m Away (2015) and Bangalore: A Graphic Novel (2017). His watercolour and mixed media show, Pacifiq Madness, opens at Tidal Art Centre in Lund April 21 – the day before Earth Day.
“I just love children’s books,” said Prashant. “They’re something you read growing up and they can just have a huge impact on a person. The combination of image and text is magical. When I was young I read Asterix, TinTin. They’re so influential. Only years later did I realize the work that goes into a single comic book.”
Animation, storyboarding – all lends itself to graphic novels, he explained. For Steve and Eve, Prashant took the time to design all the characters and locations – what each would look like from multiple angles, with mannerisms and expressions. He illustrates each frame on his iPad, using multiple levels for a painterly effect.
The finished novel is a visually-sumptuous story, with very digestible environmental education woven throughout it. The target age is 6 to 12.
Now that a first book has been designed and written, Steve and Eve are ready for more adventures. Paul and Deborah plan to foster the characters and story into a series, and Prashant explained that he would most likely direct other illustrators to carry his vision forward in the next books – that’s how the industry works.
“All three of us are dreamers,” said Paul, considering the potential for this project – both to grow as a publishing product, and for its potential inspirational impact on children as they develop into young adults and choose their paths. “Some friends have said, ‘Wow you must be happy the work is over.’ I said, ‘No – it’s just begun!’”
Can electric cars really save the planet?
qL question: A large contingent of folks think electric cars are an environmental red herring, rather than a solution. As an electrical engineer, an author and an e-car driver, what do you think?
Paul Shore • Electric cars are to gas cars, as light bulbs were to candles — technological advantage eventually wins the day.
We should be moving away from single passenger vehicles for the sake of the climate, though as long as cars, trucks, and buses are still going to be a part of our transportation systems, electrifying them has a large net carbon benefit to the planet over their life cycles.
All forms of human consumption have negative externalities on the planet, though EVs have far less total negative impact than fossil-fuel-burning vehicles. EVs won’t save the planet single-handedly, yet they have a critical role to play in global carbon emissions reduction and they are also a very visible example to children of the progress that can be made relatively rapidly to change an entire industry for the better of the planet when we put our minds to it.
Our family has driven electric cars since 2015. We started with a compact car and loved the experience, the impact on the kids, and the cost savings so much that we eventually traded our family station wagon for a pre-owned EV sedan that I have been happily driving for five years.
Top image credit: Author Paul Shore, his daughter and inspiration for the book, Jashia Shore, 15, and illustrator Prashant Miranda at the book shop inside Pollen Sweaters in Lund. Steve and Eve Save the Planet: I Can Hear Your Heart Beep is for sale there in the local book section and on Amazon.