From the winter day when the Great Tree falls, ten-year-old Ellie and her new friend, Ricky, explore the Douglas fir forest where Ellie lives. They learn about how trees decay, discover where a diversity of critters live, and experience the wonder of seasonal changes. In their explorations they help collect scientific information, assisting Ellie’s parents who are biologists in the forest. Ellie writes personal notes, records data, and includes drawings in her field notebook at the end of each chapter.
In the sequel to Ellie’s Log, sixth graders Ricky and Ellie explore the dry forests and grasslands east of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Just as Ricky arrives at his uncle’s ranch an exciting thunderstorm starts a wildfire nearby. On visits to recovering fire sites, a fire tower, a working ranch, a natural prairie and geological sites, Ricky and Ellie learn how plants, animals and people survived long ago and today in the rain shadow east of the mountains.
Ellie and Ricky travel to the Oregon coast from their home in the Cascade Mountains to help with a one-day beach cleanup. Hoping to find a prized Japanese glass float, they instead find more important natural treasures, and evidence of an ocean that needs its own global-scale cleanup. Together, they realize the power of volunteering and grapple with the challenges of ocean conservation.
It’s early fall when Ricky and Ellie travel to Portland from their homes in the Cascade Mountains for a weekend school exchange. Much to their surprise, they find an astounding variety of wildlife in the city. With the help of their new friends, Jenny and Marcus, they explore Portland’s habitats, from its streets and gardens to woodlands, streams, and river banks. Ellie tests her bird-watching skills while Ricky learns ways to count fish in streams. Together they are fascinated by stunning wildlife in the city’s restored wetlands.