Michigan’s Mark Newman has worked with the late local artist, Mark Hekman on many projects that revolved around social and environmental issues. When they decided that they wanted to create a children’s book, Hekman, a great lover of super heros, decided the protagonist should be one, too.
‘Billy Cooper, Environment Defender’, lives in the Upper Penninsula (making him a Yooper), and spends his days protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species, like sea lampreys and zebra mussels. He even has a canine sidekick , ‘Mac,’ who assists him in his missions. Together, they help keep the lakes clean and healthy.
“Sooper Yooper” was written to educate kids about this important environmental issue using a bit of science and a lot of fun colorful illustrations.
Wanting to further spread the word to the young audience, Newman created an hour-long presentation, based on Billy Cooper’s adventures. Education is mixed with entertainment to teach kids about invasive species and their threat to our lakes. Geography, music, history, science and language are interspersed in the program which has been presented, last year, to 18,000 kids in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.
As Hekman passed away before “Sooper Yooper” was fully in existance, Newman feels it is his legacy and wants to do a good job promoting the message of the book.
Newman, along with the Wege Foundation and hosted by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, created the “Sooper Art Contest” last year. Open to kids between 5 and 17, this contest consisted of original environmental art pieces. The 2011 contest is in the works!
Please visit the “Sooper Yooper” website for more information about the book, “Sooper Art Contest” and educational programs.
“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life. Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.