Wildlife advocate pens children’s book

Jake Willers was working on a video project to educate people about interacting with urban bears at the same time he was raising his little boy, Finn.

“I was reading him a bunch of kids’ books,” Willers recalls. “And I found I was able to recite five or six of them just by heart because I had read them so many times.”

That’s when he got the idea: He’d write a children’s book to get the message out about protecting bears in an urban environment.

“It would make a really cute story for kids,” he said, “and a really great way to get that information over to adults in a way that they would retain it.”

That is how “Spooner the Bear” came to be.

A children’s board book, it tells the story of Spooner, a young bear who’s determined to change the trash-eating habits of his fellow furry friends in the neighborhood.

Friends of the Carson City Library is hosting a book reading and signing from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday at the Browsers Corner Book Store across from the Carson City Library.

While the book is informative, Willers said, its main purpose is to be entertaining.

“I primarily wrote it to be a good, fun kids’ story,” Willers said. “The information is just the icing on the cake, an extra bonus. I wrote it to be sold around the world. You don’t have to relate to the situation to enjoy the story.”

And it received instant approval from his target audience.

As he was working on the book, Willers would read it to Finn, who is now 3. When the books were delivered, Finn was the first to give it a look.

“He could recite it because he knew the story so well,” Willers said. “He read it out loud. He loves it.”

Willers moved to Nevada nine years ago from his native England, where he grew up on — and later managed — a wildlife park. An international TV presenter, filmmaker and author, he has traveled to more than 30 countries and filmed in some of the most inhospitable places on earth. In recent years, he has been filming bears in the Sierra.

In the three months since it was self-published, “Spooner the Bear” has sold more than 700 copies.

More books are on the way. Willers said he is working on a series, with the next book following Spooner as he learns to clean up a campsite.

He’ll have a new audience for the new book as well. Willers and his wife, Allison, are expecting their second child next month.

“The dedication in this book says, ‘For Finn, my inspiration,’” Willers said. “The next one, no doubt, will be for the next little one.”

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