Guest Author Jo Marshall

JoMarshall Author Photo

Greetings to you, Chris and your followers! I’m delighted to know a Story Reading Ape! Especially because a long, long time ago in a Nevada desert far, far away I actually knew a story reading ape named Washoe and her loving family Roger and Debbie Fouts. While I often babysat Roger and Debbie’s children, I never had the chance to babysit Washoe, the first chimpanzee they taught to sign. Washoe went on to become the matriarch of signing chimps with the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) in Ellensburg, Washington. Roger wrote Next of Kin detailing the research, advocacy, compassion, and familial experiences he shared with our closest primate relatives. Naturally, Jane Goodall was a good friend of Roger and Debbie’s and an advocate for the CHCI and their campaign to rescue primates from research facilities. Sadly, Washoe passed away in 2007. Roger and Debbie retired in 2011, but the Institute’s staff and students are still passionate advocates for humane treatment of primates worldwide. The signing chimpanzees remaining at CHCI were transferred last month to a sanctuary in Montreal, Canada – the Fauna Foundation.

So anyway, Chris, as an ape, you will understand why I leapt to share the news of my eco-literature children’s books called Twig Stories. I do so hope an ape will read them.

I write about Twigs – impish, stick creatures, who battle the consequences of climate change in their ancient forest. Twigs survive in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest and isolated from humankind. In fact, there are no humans in Twig Stories; only the imprint they’ve left in a warming world – a world where forests are attacked by swarms of insects, which refuse to die off as they had before in frigid winters, and where deadly spring floods result in prolonged summer droughts, which then result in horrific firestorms. Twigs live in a world eerily like our own. This theme of a journey into climate crisis defines my stories as eco-literature, and the Twigs make Twig Stories enchanting fantasy for ages 8 -12.

I’ve had a lot of help writing Twig Stories. It would have been a great deal easier if the world of Twigs had simply been the result of my bizarre imagination with no point whatsoever. But my elementary school daughter decided Twigs must heroically fight global warming. Go figure. To tell you the truth, neither one of us could even envision what Twigs looked like. They were very hard to spot in the old growth forest in our back yard. We only glimpsed Twigs swinging through the heavy fronds of massive red cedars or bouncing off mushrooms in their roots. It wasn’t until David Murray, a freelance Disney artist, offered his vision of our main dude Leaf that we could celebrate their expressions. When David emailed his first sketch of Leaf we knew at once he had imagined Twigs as had we ~ brave, silly, curious, and without guile. David also beautifully illustrates the animals of the ancient forests, glaciers, and prairies. His cover art is stunning. Next, when I approached conservation nonprofits and universities for guidance, many wildlife advocates and research scientists were incredibly generous with their advice and manuscript editing. Finally, as an indie I welcomed the expertise of Createspace’s design team to publish the books and the Go Daddy site designers to publish the website. So armed with this unexpected patronage given from a quirky kid, a fantastic artist, amazing environmentalists, and enthusiastic techies I set about writing the stories.

The official descriptions for the Twig Stories collection follow, but before you eagerly browse these beautifully written blurbs, first allow me to express my thanks, Chris, for offering your blog as a treetop from which Twigs may leap into your followers’ imagination. All I ask is they suspend their disbelief, and journey into a world of daring Twigs and devastating climate crisis, not so very different from our own.

About Twig Stories

Twigs live in a fragile world of old forests and magnificent glaciers threatened by climate change events, yet Twigs stick together to survive

Twig Stories are illustrated by D.W. Murray, a Disney artist. His credits include Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and Curious George. He is a recipient of the New York Society of Illustrators Gallery and the 2004 Gold Aurora Award.

Jo Marshall shares Twig Stories’ royalties with conservation nonprofits and is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Leaf & the Rushing Waters

Leaf & the Rushing Waters

When a melting glacier bursts through an ice dam, the Rushing Waters river is set loose on an old growth forest. The flood surrounds an ancient tree where impish, stick creatures – the Old Seeder Twigs – are stranded. Their fate is tied to an enormous, sinister beaver named Slapper – the chomper colony leader. A young Twig named Leaf and his fearless friend Rustle fly on a gigantic leaf over dangerous grasslands seeking help from the fearsome Slapper. Unexpectedly, jittery chipmunks and a mysterious Twig stranger join the perilous mission, and offer protection. Still, the journey proves far more treacherous than imagined, and their chance to rescue Leaf’s tree home fades. Time is growing very short. The Old Seeder is drowning. A goliath beaver must build a mighty dam, but will he even try?

Leaf & the Rushing Waters offers a timely theme: the industrious beaver and their dams mitigate impacts from extreme flood and drought, and provide valuable ecosystems for species survival. Not so fantastic – one beaver dam in Alberta, Canada is twice the length of Hoover Dam and is seen from space!

Leaf & the Sky of Fire

Leaf & the Sky of Fire

In a dying forest – infested with bark beetles – small, stick creatures called Twigs are forced to hide in a cave, or be devoured by the ravenous barkbiters! A young Twig named Leaf attempts a foolhardy rescue, but instead leads them all into even greater danger for now they are pursued by barkbiters and fire! Still, the Twigs have courageous companions. Three loyal salamanders and a fearless, misplaced chameleon guard the Twigs during their escape over a barren ridge. In their darkest moments, a spirit bear stalks them.  And the barkbiters are relentless as they swarm after the Twigs.  Soon the firestorm panics all the forest creatures!  But there is one passage south, if only the Twigs discover it in time!

Leaf & the Sky of Fire lures the reader into dying forests in British Columbia where bark beetles infest millions of trees and create fuel for raging firestorms. This climate change catastrophe is spreading across North America and no solution is in sight.

Leaf & the Long Ice

Leaf & the Long Ice

A tiny stick creature named Leaf lives in an old forest at the foot of an ancient volcano, which is capped by a massive glacier called the Long Ice. Leaf often entertains his younger twin brothers with stories about the rare snow beasts that still survive on the Long Ice even though it shrinks more and more as the seasons grow hotter. One afternoon, the twins run away to play in the snow before it all melts. They hitch a ride on a giant moth, befriend a snowshoe bunny, and stumble upon a hermit’s creepy cave. Mistaking the hermit’s odd pets for a cave beast’s meal, the twins rescue them all. When a bold mountain goat kid leaps into the expedition, a mighty eagle attacks! Panicked, they rush into the glacier’s icy tunnels, and are lost in a maze of melting, blue tubes. Yet, all is not lost, for with the help of a courageous pika, Leaf and the hermit Mantru join forces to find the twins. But in a dreadful turn of events, it is the snow beasts of the Long Ice that will decide their fate.

Leaf & the Long Ice explores the alarming rapidly shrinking glacier of an active volcano where melting blue tunnels collapse, precious fresh water is lost, and the existence of rare creatures of the ice grows more perilous.

Some valuable links to click onto:

Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute

Fauna Foundation

Roger & Debbie Fouts

Twig Stories website Author page

Facebook book/fan page

Facebook Author page




Discounts are available through the Twig Stories website

AMAZON.COM author/book: Paperback & ebook via Kindles






LEAF & THE LONG ICE Paperbacks

Leaf & the Rushing Waters

Leaf & the Sky of Fire

Leaf & the Long Ice Paperbacks

Leaf & the Rushing Waters

Leaf & the Sky of Fire

Leaf & the Long Ice

Leaf & Echo Peak arrives in 2014

Twig Stories Logo

If you print, please recycle

Recycle Logo


5 thoughts on “Guest Author Jo Marshall

  1. Wow, Chris! The Twigs are thumping their chests over this excellent blog post! We all must tell you how much we appreciate your generosity and encouragement. Thanks, Lorinda! We know David will enjoy knowing you like his illustrations, too. We wish you and all Story Telling Apes the best!



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