Susanna Shetley is dedicated to “making the world a better place one book at a time.” She is advancing that vision in spades with her debut children’s book, The Jolt Felt Around the World (Wisdom House Books), brilliantly illustrated by Krystal Smith.

While the pictures in this book are colorful and simply marvelous, so are the many lessons for children: what happens when leaders and their constituents disconnect; the importance of helping others; dealing with adversity; showing compassion; being aware of environmental issues and taking care of the planet; and appreciating the differences (and similarities) of people from different places and backgrounds.

The Earth Is Falling! The Earth Is Falling!

It all begins when Earthlings feel a jolt. “It was only one, but something about it felt strange.” While meteorologists initially identify the jolts as earthquakes, it soon becomes clear this is something bigger — and being felt around the world. The Earth is dropping, weighed down so heavily by the abundance of trash and waste that the planet is in a free fall. With not enough time to figure out how to ease the world of so much trash and stop the frightening descent, worldwide leaders determine the only solution is to relocate Earthlings to other planets.

And so begins a quest to seek help from the other planets, with the results reminiscent (a bit in reverse) of the classic tale of The Little Red Hen. Earth’s leaders had been repeating “Not I” to the outcries for help over the years from the various planets: when Venus was in need of fresh water; Saturn sought counsel understanding bizarre asteroids plummeting its rings; and Mercury reached out on a diversity initiative, among other rejections.

This is quite a different message from the popular children’s book, All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. You don’t need to know any more than the title. “The leaders were in shock. Earth had always been the wealthiest, healthiest, most progressive planet in the galaxy. Shouldn’t the rest of the solar system be honored to help?” Even when one planet, Pluto, with not much space, offers to accommodate a small portion of Earth’s population, the leaders confine the relocation opportunity to themselves.

Finally, when the secret gets out to the public, the people of Earth take matters into their own hands. What they do helps overcome the real dangers and frustrations of what happens when leaders ignore the interests and sentiments of the people who put them in those leadership positions. Their actions also show the kindness and compassion of the human spirit, and ultimately, the planets’ actions show the power of forgiveness.

Entertaining and Educational

Targeted age for this book is upper elementary (grades 3–5); however, the author plans to create curriculum guides and response questions so the book can be used with lower grades or as an introductory activity for secondary grades. 

Shetley’s commitment to children extends beyond her book, which she wanted to tie in with The Afterschool Alliance, an advocacy group that supports strong after-school programs around the United States. “As a mom and former teacher, it’s important to me that kids and adolescents have somewhere safe and productive to go in the afternoons,” she says. “I plan to serve as an ambassador and help promote the organization through my blog and social channels.”

The Jolt Felt Around the World is a wonderful story with important messages for children. Young readers will be lured in by the superb illustrations and then taken on an exciting, educational journey that captures their interest with an intriguing plot and great insights and lessons about the world around them.

The Jolt Felt Around the World is available for purchase now.

Learn more about Susanna Shetley on her Author Profile page.

Susanna Shetley has been writing since childhood, where a napkin or scrap of paper was all that was needed to create a story. She has always loved working with kids and taught middle school language arts until becoming a dedicated full-time writer, parenting blogger and speaker. With her children as her greatest inspiration, she decided to combine her passions for writing, education and helping others to make the world a better place, one book at a time. She and her two sons live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with their cat Oliver. Visit www.susannashetleyauthor.com.