By Kristina Houck
Having overlooked the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for more than three decades, it was easy for Alice Michael Evans to choose a setting for her children’s adventure book.
“When I moved out here, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like for a child to grow up here,” said Evans, a recently retired teacher who has lived in Del Mar for 31 years. “Children who grow up here are among the luckiest on Earth. I don’t think they always realize that.”
“Torrey Pines Summer” follows two children as they explore the 2,000 acres of the La Jolla-based coastal state park. Illinois farm boy Kai and his younger cousin, Izzy, hike the trails, visit the Birch Aquarium, and learn about the Kumeyaay Native Americans and more with Uncle Dylan, the supervising park ranger.
“They have the summer of a lifetime at the reserve,” Evans said.
Born and raised in an Illinois farming community, Evans drew from her own life story while writing the book. Her 10-year-old grandson Malaki, also known as Kai, inspired the story’s main character.
With her home so close to the reserve, Evans took her two daughters to the coastal state park as they grew up. An avid hiker, she now shares the reserve with Malaki and her other two grandchildren, ages 6 and 3.
“The reserve is just an educational gold mine for kids,” Evans said. “It’s so much fun, too. There’s always something new to see.”
With 40 years of teaching experience, Evans crafted the book so that it is a learning tool for parents and teachers. “Torrey Pines Summer” features numerous photos, as well as nearly 100 questions aligned with Common Core State Standards.
Although it is geared for second- through fourth-graders, Evans said readers of all ages would enjoy the book.
“It is a fun adventure story, but the teacher side of me couldn’t resist putting in a lot of educational components,” said Evans, 60, who started teaching at 19 years old and retired from San Diego’s Doyle Elementary School last June.
“Not only is it a book for students in this area, but I think children outside of California would love to explore a summer in California by reading this book.”
Published in July, “Torrey Pines Summer” is available as an e-book from Smashwords. All proceeds from the book will benefit the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
“I just love this reserve,” Evans said. “Through this book, I wanted to give back and do something for not only my community, but for children in this area and across the U.S.”
For information or to buy a copy of the book, visit torreypinessummer.blogspot.com.