What do orcas, a beluga whale, a narwhal, a manatee, a shark, and a sailor all have in common? They’re the adorably lovable characters in Twisted Orca, a kids’ series crafted by author and lifelong Rhody Keri Newman. Newman’s love for storytelling began at the University of Rhode Island studying oceanography, which later shifted to a degree in English and Communications. “I wanted to use my degree but still follow my passion, so I created the Twisted Orca character and book series to teach children about marine life,” says the writer. “To come full circle, my daughter is actually the artist who illustrates all the books.”
The Twisted Orca stories aim to spark a love for marine life in the hearts of our future generation. “I was very fortunate to have been inspired by visiting the ocean at a young age,” begins Newman. “I know there are some kids that don’t have that opportunity. I am just starting to sell these books now, but one of my goals is to make sure I can donate books to children in need.” Ultimately, Newman hopes to be able to partner with an organization such as Hasbro to make the characters and positive messages of conservation more accessible to children.
Newman also emphasizes the sentimental value behind these stories, which closely tie in to her personal life. For example, The Magic of the Sea chronicles the discovery of a whole new world under the ocean, prompted by Newman’s similar childhood adventures near Beavertail in Jamestown, while her upcoming project I am 99 will take cues from marine biologist Ken Balcomb, whom she admired growing up.