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I am an author-illustrator of educational graphic novels and cartoon-based resources about the natural world, and a conservation biologist. My main focus is climate change. Several of my books, as well as some free resources, are available for download here.

I am an author-illustrator of educational graphic novels and cartoon-based resources about the natural world, and a conservation biologist. My main focus is climate change. Several of my books, as well as some free resources, are available for download here.
Climate change board game!
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Climate change board game!

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A fun and educational resource for classrooms and at home, the Captain Polo Climate Change Board Game combines the playability and fun of Snakes & Ladders with the educational potential of Trivial Pursuit. The game is a world map tracing Captain Polo’s adventures across oceans, over mountains, through jungles, swamps and cities as he uncovers a wealth of factual information about climate change issues and solutions, presented as Question and Answer cards and on-board boosts and penalties. Battle tested in classrooms from the UK to Ecuador, the game is fully downloadable as a bundle of A4 sheets and playing cards that are then printed out and assembled to reconstruct the board game. INSTRUCTIONS: Download the game board pieces and playing cards. Unzip the game board file and print out the 15 A4-sized JPEGs. Reassemble the board game by cutting out and pasting all the pieces on an A0-size cardboard (105 x 89.1 cm) following the order shown in the diagram. Print the playing cards pdf you downloaded earlier. For best results, print them on heavier paper, or paste them on cardboard. Cut out each playing card and stack the red, blue and green cards in separate piles. As you play the game, you will need to draw on these cards. Once you’ve read a card, put it back at the bottom of its pile. Playing instructions are included on the actual board game itself.
Climate Action Calendar 2021
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Climate Action Calendar 2021

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This environmentally themed, pdf calendar features 12 action-packed, humorous comic-strip stories about the impacts of climate change as seen through the eyes of comic book character Captain Polo the climate change bear. Based on the popular graphic novel series ‘The Adventures of Captain Polo’, each month comes with a set of practical Climate Action tips to put into practice with your students and colleagues, or even at home. The calendar marks the main holidays in the UK as well as key environmental dates for 2021. Get this calendar to keep the environmental crisis and what can be done about it top of mind and tip of tongue, in a fun and novel format for every month of the year!
Top 10 Climate Action Tips (A4 mini posters)
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Top 10 Climate Action Tips (A4 mini posters)

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Climate change graphic novel hero Captain Polo presents his TOP 10 Climate Action tips for you to print out as separate mini posters for your classroom and at home. Drawn from current best practices as recommended by top climate and sustainability experts, these 10 mini posters are designed especially for teachers covering climate change, sustainable living and related environmental topics. The pdf prints out ten A4-sized, high quality coloured sheets that can be pinned to school notice boards, pasted on project posters, classroom walls, communal school areas and even the teachers’ common room as daily reminders of simple ways we can all make a difference taking better care of our planet.
Educational comic strip about reproduction
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Educational comic strip about reproduction

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An original resource for biology teachers, this funny yet educational comic strip teaches about the mating strategy of the Greater Rhea, a species found in central and southern South America. Extracted from the comic book Fables of the Amazon: Fun Lessons in Ecology, the story is presented in classic comic strip format as a fable framed within a natural history lesson. As with the original book, the story is drawn from the personal field studies of the author.
Educational comic about the natural history and ecology of Amazon rainforest creatures.
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Educational comic about the natural history and ecology of Amazon rainforest creatures.

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The funny comic strips in this book feature facts about jungle animals taken from actual field observations made by the conservation scientist authors. Natural history and ecology are fascinating but complex subjects. What better way to discover them than through a comic that is both funny and scientifically accurate? A perfect learning resource for nature-loving kids and adults, as well as for science teachers! Available here as a pdf to download, Fables of the Amazon features the following: Eleven comic-strip short fables featuring a wide array of South American jungle animals. Each fable comes with an ecology or conservation lesson. An intimate look at the secret lives of wild guinea pigs, rare macaws, jaguars, leaf-cutter ants, the elusive Maned Wolf, and many others. The authors’ own natural history notes (with photos) from the field.
Educational graphic novel about climate change effects and solutions
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Educational graphic novel about climate change effects and solutions

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This fast-paced, Tintin-style graphic novel explores current climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in different countries, interweaving facts with fiction in an action-packed storyline. Setting out to find food in a melting Arctic landscape, Captain Polo finds himself back on the ocean waves in his trusty sailing boat, falling into one crazy adventure after another. Except this time, he is sailing on the secret agenda of a hidden stowaway! Book 4 of this series of climate change books for kids takes Captain Polo on another rollicking, funny global journey that uncovers ever more important aspects of global warming, and importantly, also the many ways we can all become part of the solution. In this way readers as young as age 9 will be introduced to: climate change and biodiversity climate change and agriculture climate change economics climate change justice impact of climate change on environment how climate change affects animals This latest release in the popular series includes a detailed glossary explaining the main technical terms and concepts used in the book and as heard increasingly frequently in the media. “Captain Polo’s adventures are a great way to get your child started on climate literacy.” - Asha Alexander, Principal, GEMS Kindergarten Starters and Executive Leader of Climate Change at GEMS Education, Dubai “Fantastically enjoyable graphic novel with an eco-conscious theme - educational and thought-provoking for children and adults alike.” - Reedsy “Captain Polo’s adventures provide a powerful learning tool that raises awareness in a way that’s both engaging and enjoyable on a very serious topic that affects us all.” - Ashton Berry, Global Climate Change Programme Coordinator, BirdLife International “The book is fun. It is a pleasure to read. Children will learn a lot and enjoy doing it. I can’t recommend Pole to Pole highly enough. It should be purchased for all kids, and even adults too.” - Amazon 5-star review
Environmentally themed Christmas picture book
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Environmentally themed Christmas picture book

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The Arctic ice is melting due to global warming and Santa can’t take off in his sleigh. Luckily, Captain Polo and his Inuit friends are there to help! This funny, vividly illustrated children’s book combines the Christmas theme with a gentle introduction to some of the main effects and practical solutions to climate change in a way that children from age 6 can understand and positively engage with. The book includes a useful glossary of main technical terms designed to help young (and not so young) readers understand the essential drivers of climate change. This updated edition also features a new section containing FOUR PRACTICAL ACTIONS that everyone can start making to become leaders towards a healthier environment and a better future. With it’s festive storyline and important message, this book makes for a perfect Christmas read at a time when caring about our planet has never been more important. “This is perfect for children to learn about taking care of our environment. Not only does this teach about climate change, but also to never give up and be persistent.” - Amazon 5-star review “Great book, reinforcing that even one small change will make a difference. From the words on my 7 year old " Santa was being very bossy on page 38 which isn’t good for him, will make him loose his magic… and she’s very concerned about the presents not being delivered due to climate change and the ice melting. Santa is right things will just get worse if nothing changes.” - Amazon 5-star review “This Christmas themed book explains how / why it’s important to take care of our environment and what we can do to help. The book also explains things like climate change, greenhouse gases, The atmosphere, Global warming, etc… This is different than most Christmas books. I like the story and that Santa’s sleigh is solar powered. Let’s teach future generations to be kind to our earth.” - Amazon 5-star review
Climate change education in a comic book: Book 1 of the series
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Climate change education in a comic book: Book 1 of the series

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This educational graphic novel also provides an original teaching aid for teachers covering climate change and related effects. The book, the first in a 4-part series, is a fiction story that is visually stimulating, fun to read and scientifically accurate. It touches upon many of the most important facts regarding the causes, effects and solutions to climate change around the world. The book includes a more detailed section at the back, Captain Polo’s Climate Change Classroom, which explains some of the more technical concepts and terminology in clear language. Educational content includes: The main causes of man made climate change and some of its main effects across the globe on natural ecosystems and human societies Some of the ways in which diverse human groups all over the world are learning to adapt to climate change How everyone can make a difference by adopting a few simple sustainable lifestyle changes in your day to day life “Captain Polo is the story about us and our future on Earth, presented in a knowledge-based and adventurous way, which can spark much needed conversations and action to save, not the polar bears, but Humanity.” Prof. Johan Rockström Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research “Captain Polo takes us with him on his adventure, opens our eyes and, despite the enormity of the problems, with warmth and wit shows us that “we are all connected…all part of the same planet” and that, if we each take action wherever we live, there may yet be hope.” Pippa Heylings, Chair, Climate Change and Environment Committee, South Cambs District Council “I live in France where comics are very popular, (known as bande dessinée or more simply, BD). They are used a lot to teach, especially social and moral skills. Alan Hesse has put this to great use in his Captain Polo series by using terrific cartoons, cool dialogue and a fun story to allow the reader to explore climate change.” - Amazon 5-star review
A uniquely educational and entertaining colouring book about climate change
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

A uniquely educational and entertaining colouring book about climate change

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This colouring-book edition of Pole to Pole, the latest release in the climate change graphic novel series “The Adventures of Captain Polo” offers a unique and original resource for younger readers to have fun while learning about the most critical existential and environmental issue of our time. Readers are invited to colour-in the graphic novel as they see fit, and thereby create their very own version to share and learn with. Through an action-packed storyline interweaving facts with fiction replete with comic heroes, villains and world maps, the reader is taken on another epic global journey to discover a whole new set of lesser-known aspects of climate change, and importantly, also the many solutions that exist. “My 9 year old son loves this latest book from the Captain Polo series. He loves that climate change is at the heart of the book, and that this new format means it can be shared with younger siblings and friends. The characters are fun and engaging and it delivers a vital subject in a truly accessible way. We can’t wait for the next installment!” - Amazon 5 star Review
Educational graphic novel about Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Educational graphic novel about Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection

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This funny, historically and scientifically accurate graphic novel explains Darwin’s theory in clear language, and provides thoroughly researched insight into Darwin’s thought process and the pressures he had to deal with. Available here as a pdf download, the book provides an entertaining learning experience and is perfect for science teachers who teach evolution in their classrooms. Recommended by the US National Science Teachers Association, this book explains the following: How the field observations made by Darwin and his crew while visiting the legendary Galápagos islands eventually led to the Theory of Natural Selection How Darwin tapped into the scientific minds of his time and related with his peers Darwin’s inner struggle while developing his work, including the dilemma he faced as a God-fearing Christian The little-known truth behind how the Theory of Natural Selection was actually stumbled upon How the Theory actually works, explained in simple language and with cartoon illustrations KEY REVIEWS “*This fantastically illustrated comic focuses on the five weeks that Darwin spent in Galapagos and the subsequent development of the theory of evolution. Taking such a story and turning it into a comic that is both enjoyable and accessible to a wide range of ages is no mean feat, but Alan Hesse has done a brilliant job.” *- Galapagos Conservation Trust “My 12-year old daughter really enjoyed reading this book. She already knew something about Charles Darwin from a Horrible Histories song about him on TV so was very interested to find out about him. This book really helped her to understand who Darwin was, his historical context and why his discoveries were so important. She found the story entertaining and easy to follow and she really liked the illustrations which are lighthearted and lively. As an adult I also found the book very engaging and educational and I found the final section on Darwin’s legacy and the very clear explanation of his theories about natural selection genuinely enlightening.” - Amazon customer “This has been my go to gift for young biologists and curious kids- a huge hit. Beautiful illustrations allow for kids of different ages to read with their parents, but the content and story allows for older ones to engage in and learn about this incredible journey. A must have for any family that wants to inspire and support their children’s passion for ecology, wildlife, and the history of science!” - Amazon customer
Teach your students how to make a comic!
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Teach your students how to make a comic!

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Make your own comic is a manual to help students learn about any subject in an original manner - by making their own comic. The use of comics is particularly useful for students who are reluctant readers or who face reading challenges such as dyslexia. Writing and drawing their own stories to carry the subject at hand will engage the emotional and creative brain of students, thus enhancing engagement and information retention. Drawn from best practices developed over the years creating my own comic books and graphic novels, this manual offers teachers and their students, regardless of their artistic ability, a fun and original resource to make learning fun and effective. The manual covers the principles of storytelling and a bagful of my personal tips and tricks on how to best construct a dynamic, educational comic book. Teachers can use this manual as a guide for their students on how to bring research into a particular subject into the story structure to make an original and compelling learning activity come to life. Self-taught, I learned the hard way, making many mistakes along the way. Take the shortcut to success with this 18-page manual and add the art of making comic books to your array of teaching methods.
Video: climate change in the Andes with Captain Polo
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Video: climate change in the Andes with Captain Polo

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In this video, Captain Polo visits the Ecuadorian Andes and learns all about the effects of climate change on glaciers, highland moors and water supplies. An original resource for science teachers and presented by Alan J. Hesse, Captain Polo’s creator and author of the climate change graphic novel series ‘The Adventures of Captain Polo’, the video highlights the Antisana volcano, which has the biggest glacier in Ecuador and is over 5 times higher than Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain the Britain. The video explains that although Ecuador only contributes about 0.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming, yet it is still highly affected by climate change. According to recent research, the rate of warming in the Andes is nearly twice the global average. The main impact of global warming in the Andes is on water sources, which is why water management is one of the top climate change adaptation priorities in Ecuador. One of the most obvious global warming effects on water in the Andes is **melting glaciers. ** Antisana holds the largest of Ecuador’s 7 glaciers. Glaciers in the Andes are all under threat from global warming. One of Ecuador’s glaciers has already lost 96% of its surface due to rapid, man-made global warming. Local scientists predict that in 5 years it could have melted completely. Captain Polo was very keen to see the Antisana volcano for himself, because, as he finds out in his own adventures around the world, climate change truly is global, in the sense that what happens in one place will affect places even if they are on the other side of the planet. For example, most GHG emissions are created in industrial areas that can be very far away from these mountains, yet they still have an effect here, as we can see with the shrinking glaciers. In some parts of the Andes, entire lakes have already dried up because of this. Polo will want to know what the solutions are. It’s a good question, because there are always solutions. In the Andes it’s really all about protecting those water sources. That basically means preserving natural ecosystems, such as forests and this high altitude moorland called paramo, because these are natural water regulators: when they are healthy and work properly, they make sure there is always the right amount of water.
Video: climate change, oceans and coastlines
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Video: climate change, oceans and coastlines

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In this video, Captain Polo visits the Ecuadorian coast, where he documents how global warming affects the Pacific ocean and coastal populations. An original resource for science teachers and presented by Alan J. Hesse, Captain Polo’s creator and author of the climate change graphic novel series ‘The Adventures of Captain Polo’, the video highlights the issue of rising sea levels, one of the most serious effects of climate change on coastal areas around the world. As sea levels rise, flooding will become more and more frequent, threatening infrastructure and human survival. Population density on the coast tends to be higher than inland, and in countries like Ecuador, coastal populations live in very difficult conditions, often without proper sanitation and housing. Water flooding in from the sea not only presents an immediate physical threat; it also undermines sanitation infrastructure and water supplies. Seawater can seep into the ground water affecting crop irrigation, and drinking water. Humans as well as crops cannot drink seawater! Teachers may use this video as a conversation starter in the classroom or online, as part of their broader teaching on environment and climate change.
Video: landslides and cocoa farming in the Andes
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Video: landslides and cocoa farming in the Andes

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Chocolate and landslides: an inspiring visit to a cocoa farmer in Colombia showing his recovery from a devastating landslide caused by unpredictable weather. This video could be used by teachers to support lessons about weather, environment and agriculture, with particular focus on developing countries. Students may also find it interesting to see where chocolate comes from, what the cocoa fruit looks like and how it’s processed. In this video I visited a Colombian subsistence farmer whose river-side crops were swept away by a flood and landslide. Among the many effects of global warming is the local disruption of natural weather patterns. To a farmer, this translates into either not enough water over too long a period or too much water all at once. The small watershed featured in the video suffered from too much water all at once: one night, a liquid avalanche consumed the small town of San Vicente de Chucurí in the Santander province of Colombia. Dozens of small landholders instantly lost their livelihoods as their crops - mainly cacao - were swept away and replaced by rubble, mud and rocks. I made this short video while working for Rare. At the time I was a programme manager in Rare LatinAmerica’s Watershed Programme. My duties included training and mentoring groups of local conservation leaders striving to change the way farmers in vulnerable watersheds worked their lands. Thanks to Rare’s signature ‘Pride’ programme, myself and my colleagues were able to train our local heroes in the use of powerful social marketing techniques to achieve lasting behaviour change that benefits natural ecosystems and also the people living in them. Thanks to this project, Don Cristobal, interviewed here in the video, was able to turn a disaster into an opportunity.
Excerpt of climate change-themed colouring comic
AlanJHesseAlanJHesse

Excerpt of climate change-themed colouring comic

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Introduce your younger students to global warming, climate change and the environment through this original, printable pdf activity. ‘Colouring-in Climate Change’ is a two-page extract from the graphic novel ‘The Adventures of Captain Polo: Pole to Pole - colouring book for kids’ by the same author. This black and white excerpt allows students to colour-in the comic sequence while picking up the meaning of permafrost and its significance in the Siberian tundra. As the topic of climate change is being increasingly incorporated into school curricula, this free resource provides a fun introduction and conversation-starter for some of the issues around global warming in Arctic regions, and the accumulation of methane and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The printable A4-size pdf comes complete with active hyperlinks for further exploration of the original book and related works by the same author, and as such will make a great addition to any science teacher’s toolkit.