Keep Arkansas Beautiful announces new children’s storybook with live reading by Craig O’Neill Jan. 25

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) unveiled its second children’s storybook, written in collaboration with Arkansas PBS, with a special live book reading from Arkansas television news legend Craig O'Neill to students at Pulaski Heights Elementary on Jan. 25, 2024. "The Messy Garden Mystery,” based on the locally-produced Arkansas PBS children’s series “Mystery League,” follows KAB’s mascot Otto the Otter and his new friend Marta in a literary adventure aimed at fostering litter prevention, education, recycling and community beautification for students across Arkansas ages pre-K through elementary. The book is available free to the public. Visit HERE for ways to receive it.

"As a commission dedicated to enhancing Arkansas' livability, one of our priorities is to engage Arkansas’ youth in environmental stewardship education and resources,” said Colbie Jones, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission. “We are excited to share this new storybook adventure with children across our state while furthering our mission to instill the value of preserving our environment for a brighter tomorrow."

KAB’s latest storybook features Marta, a character from the new Arkansas PBS live-action series "Mystery League." KAB brought together the creative works of author Corey Womack, a Mid-America Regional Emmy Award-winning writer and producer for Arkansas PBS, illustrator Ron Wolfe, renowned for his vivid cartoons that graced the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and editor Elizabeth Dru Yates to create an engaging, insightful, school-aged narrative on litter cleanup and conservation.

Arkansas PBS is thrilled to partner with Keep Arkansas Beautiful for this children’s book featuring one of our most popular characters,” Arkansas PBS Education Director and “Mystery League” producer Sajni Kumpuris said. “We created ‘Mystery League’ to encourage Arkansas kids to work together and understand the importance of community, and what better way to further that message than by reinforcing it through reading activities that encourage the need to take great care of our wonderful state.”

KAB works in collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Education to produce reading and workbook materials that meet the Arkansas English Language Arts Standards, including English, science and social studies, with the aim of equipping more teachers across the state with educational resources and activities they can incorporate into curriculums. With the support of longtime reading advocate Craig O’Neill, who throughout his news career hosted "Craig's Reading Road Trip" where he read aloud to school children, KAB and Arkansas PBS will launch a spring book-reading tour to bring the adventures of Otto and Marta to schools and communities across the state.

"At Keep Arkansas Beautiful, we are proud to join our efforts with esteemed reading and education advocates like Craig O'Neill and the Arkansas PBS team to amplify the impact of this new storybook,” said Michael Barger, educational coordinator with KAB. “These stories help lay the foundation for creating communities that value sustainability, instilling lifelong practices that ensure a cleaner, more vibrant Arkansas for generations to come."

For those eager to embark on Otto’s "The Messy Garden Mystery" adventure, free copies of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful storybook can be ordered here. Catch up on all of Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s Otto the Otter stories and activities here. Learn more about Arkansas PBS’s “Mystery League,” free resources and how to watch here.


Keep Arkansas Beautiful
The Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) consists of a professional staff of three and a nine-member advisory board appointed by the governor. KAB is a part of Arkansas State Parks, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. KAB is a certified state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful Inc. and inspires and educates individuals to reduce litter, recycle and keep Arkansas beautiful. KAB is funded by the Amendment 75 1/8-cent Conservation Tax. For more information, visit Stay in the know by following Keep Arkansas Beautiful on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and texting VOLUNTEER to (501) 287-3596.

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Shea Lewis serves as the secretary for the department.

About Arkansas PBS
Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’ only statewide public media network, empowers learners of all ages by educating, informing, entertaining and inspiring communities. Arkansas PBS serves as a daily and essential resource for Arkansans by creating, sharing, celebrating and driving conversation around Arkansas stories and classic, trusted PBS programs through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), KETZ (El Dorado), KETS (Lee Mountain), KETS (Forrest City), KETS (Yancy) and KETS (Gaither).

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