The Beetle and the Sanderling
A young Sanderling bird named Salt meets a stranded, rare American Burying Beetle named Loam. Salt needs better seashore habitat to live on and Loam needs to return to her children on Block Island. Salt decides to leave their flock and team up with Loam on a perilous journey across the sea to Loam’s island.
As Salt and Loam encounter huge birds, storms, and other dangers, they learn more about each other and the world. Despite contrasting lives and lifespans, Salt and Loam become friends and found family. The two face surprising reunions and secrets, while gaining a deeper understanding of how all living things are connected.
THE BEETLE AND THE SANDERLING is a New England natural history adventure story, woven with science and wry humor.
Age Range:Middle Grade
Genre:Adventure, Animals, Conservation & Environment, Fiction, Humor, LGBTQ+
Page Count Estimate:150-200
This story grew out of my graduate school studies on Sanderlings and the threatened American Burying Beetle (the state insect of Rhode Island). Insects are charming, fascinating, and key parts of ecosystems. I hope to bring awareness to insect conservation and ecology issues.
The narrative also draws from my personal journey as a non-binary, queer Asian American. The animal characters embrace being non-binary and queer, because queerness is a documented part of the natural world. The emotions behind Salt struggling with their community, and Salt and Loam bonding as found family, come from my own emotions of seeking supportive spaces and people. I want marginalized readers to see themselves in nature stories, because they belong there too.
Aya Rothwell (they/them) is a queer, non-binary, mixed-race Japanese American artist living in Rhode Island. They have a Masters degree in environmental science from the University of RI, and they work in ecology and science communication. Aya has been in the New England independent arts scene for over a decade, participating in anthologies and festivals. They have created comics for entomology labs. Aya likes to draw watercolor comics from fantasy to nonfiction, often centering animals.