The Littlest Particle

Together with my groupmates, Cara and Isa, we made a children storybook with a twist of science that we needed to pass for Life Science. The main character is little Rachel Carson who wrote the “Silent Spring”, and the plot is about Biomagnification as the bad effect of  DDT or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane on nature. The drawings are very simple, and I hope the plot is conceivable to young readers.

Once upon a time, in a dark little bottle, there lived a tiny particle with a very long name, but everyone called her Little DDT. Little DDT was brought out of her bottle every day to help people chase out pests, but no one ever thanked her. She was very sad, and wanted to show everyone that she was good for more than scaring away insects. “I’ll show them!” she whispered to herself. “I’ll make them see how great I can be!” And so began the plan that would change the world completely.

A few weeks later, the animals of the world were having a meeting. Everyone was talking at once, and no one noticed anything was wrong until one little chipmunk cried out, “Why are there so many rabbits?”

A hush fell over the animals as they tried to count. One.. two.. too many! Then they noticed that there were other things wrong with the group.

“Where are the ospreys?” asked a rat.”Where are the fish?” said a dove. “The balance of nature has changed!” cried an eagle. “What went wrong? What happened?”

Everyone started talking again, giving their own ideas, when suddenly one little human girl stood up and said loudly, “I volunteer to find out what happened! I’ll investigate this, and I’ll tell everyone at the next meeting what I found out.” Everyone agreed to this, and the little girl went away to start her work.

The little girl, whose name was Rachel, decided to go to the rabbits first. “Excuse me, Mr. Rabbit, but why are there so many of you?”
“Oh little girl, we haven’t seen the ospreys recently. They like to chase us around, you see, so now that they’re gone, all of us can come out to play!” Mr. Rabbit said happily.
“But where did all the ospreys go?”
“I don’t know, little Rachel. Maybe you can ask Mr. Osprey- he lives in that tree over there! You should see if he’s home, though.”
“Thank you, Mr. Rabbit!”
And she skipped away towards the tree.

When she got to the tree, she found that Mr. Osprey was very sick.
“Mr. Osprey!” she called out. “It’s me, Rachel. How are you, sir?”
“Oh, I feel terrible,” he groaned. “And it’s not just me- all of our family here is sick! Even the little ones are feeling sick inside their eggs.”
“That’s horrible,” Rachel said sadly. “But how do you think this happened, Mr. Osprey?”
Mr. Osprey thought for a moment. “Well, it might have been when I ate a very bad-tasting mouse a week ago. Perhaps the mice are also sick- you should ask Miss Mouse. She lives over there in that little burrow.”
“Thank you, Mr. Osprey!”
And she skipped away towards the burrow.

At the burrow, she found that Miss Mouse was sniffling, but she wasn’t quite as sick as Mr. Osprey.
“Good morning, Miss Mouse! How are you feeling?”
“Not too bad, Rachel, thank you for asking.” Miss Mouse coughed a little. “The family is sick as well, but we can get by.”
“That’s good to hear. But when did you get sick?”
“Hm..” Miss Mouse tapped her cheek as she thought. “I think it started last week, when I ate a piece of wheat that tasted terrible. You can talk to the plants, dear, or maybe visit the Wheat family over at the field. I’m sure Mrs. Wheat would be delighted to speak with you.”
“Thank you, Miss Mouse!”
And she skipped away towards the wheat field.

When she arrived at the wheat field, she was very surprised by what she found. The Wheat family didn’t look sick at all!
“Hello, Mrs. Wheat. How are you today?”
“Perfectly fine, dear Rachel. Why do you ask?”
“The animals had a meeting, and everything is wrong! I’ve asked around, and I noticed something strange. The ospreys and the mice are sick, and they think it’s because of something they ate.”
“Oh, that sounds terrible. Well, if it helps, I do remember that about a week ago, there was something that landed on me. It was very small, so I lost track of where it was after that.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Wheat! That might just be the key!”
And Rachel left with a smile on her face.

For days and days Rachel tried to figure out what could have gone wrong- and most importantly, what the mystery thing that landed on Mrs. Wheat was. She felt it was all connected somehow… Then one day, just when she was about to give up, she had an idea. A brilliant, wonderful, almost impossible idea.

The time of the next world meeting had come, and all the animals had gathered again. This time, though, they were all quiet as they waited for Rachel to present her findings.
“Animals of the world,” she announced. “I’ve figured out what went wrong!”
“What happened?”
“Who did it?”
“I found out that there was a mysterious little particle that visited the Wheat family- but it was so small they hardly noticed it. But they didn’t know that the particle affected them very much. When Miss Mouse ate a piece of wheat, she started to get sick, and spread it to all her family. Then, when Mr. Osprey ate a mouse, he got sick as well, but this time even worse than Miss Mouse! His whole family was affected, and that’s why they aren’t here right now.”
“So who is this mysterious particle?” asked the eagle.
“Here she is… Little DDT!”

Rachel held up a blade of grass, and everyone leaned closer to see the particle.
“So, Little DDT, why did you do it?”
“It’s all your fault!” she shouted. “All of you! None of you appreciated what I did for you!”
“That’s not true!” the animals cried. “We were always grateful.”
“Except maybe the insects,” Rachel added.
“But no reason can excuse what you did, Little DDT,” the eagle said seriously. “You tried to change the world in a very bad way, and for that we have to punish you.” The eagle raised his voice so that everyone could hear him. “I declare that Little DDT should be banished to her bottle, forever!”
“No!” cried Little DDT, but no one listened to her.

So Little DDT is now safe forever in her bottle, and the world is peaceful and everyone lives happily ever after.



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