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Science and the Environment Inspire Watsonville Author’s Children’s Book

Book featuring a spittlebug aims to help children realize everyone has a gift

Stephanie Sabatinelli released her first children's book, "The Spittle Spattle Bug" earlier this month. PHOTO: James Dewrance

Author Stephanie Sabatinelli was inspired to write her first children’s book, The Spittle Spattle Bug, by her aunt’s enthusiasm for science and the environment. 

The book features a spittlebug, a type of hemipteran insect best known for sucking moisture out of plants and encasing themselves in a foamy residue in its immature stage.

“[My aunt] was sharing with me all these fascinating facts about the bug, and it got my imagination rolling,” Sabatinelli says. “I was fascinated … it is a common species, but not very well known.”

Released in early May, The Spittle Spattle Bug follows the story of a young spittlebug who feels like an unpopular outsider—until it uses its unique talents to help rescue a group of other bugs. Sabatinelli says she wanted to create a book for children that helped them realize that everyone has a gift—something that makes them important. 

“Maybe it’s not something they think is special, but it’s there,” she says. “And I want to encourage these kids that there’s hope … a possibility to experience adventure … even today, when there’s a lot of sadness and struggling.”

Sabatinelli was born in Massachusetts and moved to California soon after graduating from high school. She first landed in San Francisco, then Santa Cruz, until finally becoming a resident of Watsonville in 2007.

“I fell in love with [Watsonville],” she says. “The sloughs, the rural backroads … it’s a beautiful area.”

“The Spittle Spattle Bug” is Sabatinelli’s first published work, but she says she has been writing from a very early age. She remembers being encouraged to write poems and stories by her second grade teacher, and since then has never stopped.

Nature has been a primary source of inspiration for Sabatinelli, and insects in particular have fascinated her.

“They affect everything,” she says. “Bees, for example … without them, there are big consequences. We take them for granted, and when their populations are affected we start seeing changes to our environment.”

The Spittle Spattle Bug was released on May 4. It is currently available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online outlets.

Sabatinelli says that she and her publisher, Austin Macauley Publishers, were unsure if they should release the book as scheduled, or postpone it until after the current Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place subsided.

“But then … we realized how important books are right now,” Sabatinelli says. “They are an escape, a comfort, and a great tool for parents to connect with their children.”

For more information, visit austinmacauley.com/us/book/spittle-spattle-bug.

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