Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’
Posted in non-fiction, picture books, tagged Anna Comstock, biodiversity, book reviews, children's literature, earth day, ecosystems, environmentalism, extinct animals, Great Auk, nature education, nature study, nonfiction, picture books, recycling, sunlight, sustainability, trash, trees, water cycle, wolves, yellowstone national park on April 19, 2017| Leave a Comment »
I have a new Musings post up today.
I’m musing about my dear Grandma Runa who is a strong, steady, happy inspiration for me…
…and my recent “Aha!” moment when I realized something surprising about her that’s been staring me in the face all along…
…and what that can mean for our own flourishing.
Click here, or search the Musings tab to read “as green as my grandmother.”
Forest of Wonders (Wing & Claw Book 1), by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by James Madsen
published in 2016 by HarperCollins
Raffa, age 12, is the son of two apothecaries who live in a quiet settlement near the mysterious Forest of Wonders.
Though young, Raffa has already demonstrated an uncanny knack for mixing up effective tinctures, infusions, and poultices purchased by villagers. He has acquired a great store of knowledge about the marvelous botanicals growing in the Forest, and how to make use of their powerful healing properties.
One day, Raffa is startled by the literal dropping-in-to-his-life of a little bat. A grievously injured bat. In the process of mending its shredded wings and broken bones, Raffa collects and uses a scarlet vine, an ancient remedy known to his grandmother as a particularly potent agent of healing. And yes, the bat’s wounds heal nicely. But that vine possesses far stranger powers than anyone would suspect. And now some of that vine has gone AWOL.
To prevent the vine from harming others — human and animal — Raffa ventures off to the capital city, Gilden, an overwhelming and menacing place for a country bumpkin. There he encounters a heap of troubles, meets some unusual compatriots, and learns of a sinister plot underway courtesy of the Chancellor of Obsidia.
I do not pick up a lot of fantasy literature, partially because I am cowed by the length of most of the series — often 3 to 5 thick volumes long. With all the titles on my want-to-read list, I usually cannot bear to begin those formidable sets!
However. This one has Linda Sue Park’s name on it, and when I see her name on a book, I grab it. And I’m never sorry.
I loved this book. As we’ve come to expect from Linda, the plot, pacing, setting, dialogue, are perfect. And the characters! Incredibly engaging. By the end of this volume, you’ll have grown to love smart, tenderhearted, conscientious Raffa and his seriously-intrepid band of friends. You’ll also meet Echo — the most endearing little bat on the planet — and several other animals who will steal your heart.
If my kids were 10 again, they would absolutely lovelovelove this book.
One of the charms of the story is its focus on the wild plants in the Forest of Wonders and their extraordinary powers of healing. I felt like I was back in Pomona Sprout’s laboratory at Hogwarts, chopping and blending roots and shoots to magical effect! The fact is, our forests are filled with plant life imbued with medicinal potential, and the awe we feel reading about the Forest of Wonders would be well-cultivated for the amazing, often-threatened, vegetation around us.
Apart from being a magnificent adventure, the story raises thought-provoking questions about civil disobedience, the wise use of environmental resources, the potential for adverse consequences to scientific advances, the ethics of using the ends to justify the means. It’s a thrilling story in which success hangs on tremendously difficult choices, and on friends who trust one another and do not betray that trust.
Grab this for kids ages 9 and up. The only problem is the cliff-hanger ending! No idea when Book Two will release. (330 pages)
Posted in non-fiction, picture books, recipes, tagged biosphere 2, book reviews, children's literature, climate change, cooking, earth day, ecology, environmentalism, fossil fuels, honey bees, nature, picture books, science, wildlife on April 18, 2016| 1 Comment »
Earth Day is coming up this week. I hope you take the opportunity to marvel at the wonderland around us and resolve to learn more about proper stewardship of this precious, interconnected home of ours.
For those of you in the Twin Cities, I’d also like to draw your attention to a lecture co-sponsored by the MacLaurin Institute and the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Dr. Katherine Hayhoe will be speaking on “Climate Change: Facts, Fictions, and the Christian Faith” on Thursday, April 21. You can find out more details at the link here.
I’ve got a whole stack of excellent books today. I’ll proceed in order from least to most technical, and end with a gorgeous new cookbook to inspire all of us!
This is the Earth, by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, paintings by Wendell Minor
published in 2016 by Harper
Wendell Minor’s magnificent paintings are the first thing you’ll notice in this gorgeous survey of the eons of life on Earth. Wall-to-wall color embraces us beginning with the clean, unspoiled beauty of savanna, river, and sky, explosive with wildlife, plant life, sparkling water, pure air.
As humans make homes and lives for themselves and increasingly subject the land to industrial spoilage and environmental damage, the pictures are not so gladsome. But the story doesn’t end there. The authors continue their poetic account of our interactions with Earth into the present, when better care-taking is practiced and begins to heal the planet.
It’s a tender, beautiful appeal towards greener living that is perfect for children ages 3 or 4 and up — the ideal time to begin forming sustainable habits.
Nature’s Day: Discover the World of Wonder on Your Doorstep, by Kay Maguire, illustrated by Danielle Kroll
published in 2016 by Wide Eyed Editions
UK botanist Kay Maguire and Brooklyn-based artist Danielle Kroll have teamed up to create this lavish, beautiful guide to nature lore through the seasons. As with every Wide Eyed Edition, the production quality is impeccable. Everything is lovely!
Each season hosts its own glories, and they’re parceled out here in tidbits of information and charming, fresh illustrations. Learn about the fascinating Dawn Chorus of springtime. Investigate the vegetable garden in summer. Snoop in the autumnal leaf litter to see what’s lurking there. Check for surprising signs of life in wintertime. And so much more!
80 over-sized pages of beauty and wonder to meander through again and again. An inspiration for gardening, nature walks, trips to the farmer’s market, and appreciation for the natural world. Ages 4 and up.
Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth, by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, illustrated by Molly Bang
published in 2014 by Blue Sky Press
This is the fourth book in Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm’s fascinating series on sunlight. What an astounding star that sun of ours is!
Here they explain how oil, coal, and gas — fossil fuels — were formed, like tiny treasure chests with precious supplies of energy from the sun trapped inside of them, then buried deep in the earth.
And how, fairly recently, humans discovered those treasure chests and unlocked their potential by burning them to power our world. And how the rapidity of our use of these fossil fuels is affecting Earth’s climate like never before due to the enormous release of carbon dioxide that is occurring.
I am not a scientist. But Penny Chisholm is an MIT professor and Molly Bang has an uncanny knack of writing these complex facts in accessible language that even I can understand! This book has been vetted by my dear son, a PhD student in Environmental Microbiology, and some of his environmental cohorts and gets all thumbs up. Grab it to share with kids ages 5 or 6 and up. You adults will benefit from it, too!
A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife, by Caroline Arnold, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
published in 2012 by Charlesbridge
I suspect most of us have heard about the difficulties polar bears are having in the arctic with the changes in the duration of sea ice which decrease the length of their hunting season.
But what about the impact of climate change on penguins and walruses. On butterflies and fish? The interconnectedness of the natural world is explained in a nature-notebook format in this informative book. You will learn how changes that affect plant life, water temperature, and ice conditions, go on to impact a wide collection of animals.
With its succinct, clear, text and appealing illustrations geared to kids ages 7 and up this book shows some of the furry and feathered reasons we work to limit climate change.
What’s the Buzz?:Keeping Bees in Flight, by Merrie-Ellen Wilcox
published in 2015 by Orca Book Publishers
Author Merrie-Ellen Wilcox loves bees and raises them in six hives at her British Columbia home. Her enthusiasm for this hard-working insect shines through in this book that covers all things Bee.
Learn about the amazing bee, its life, work, and hive-home. Discover the astoundingly-huge job bees do as pollinators for enormous amounts of crops — apples, almonds, blueberries and more — that we eat every day, as well as the way they aid other species such as bears and fish. Find out all about the delicious honey bees produce and the many ways honey and beeswax benefit us.
Finally, and sadly, learn the enormous problems bees face today. This will come as no surprise to most of you, but oh, it is distressing! How can you become a Bee-Friendly Kid? A number of realistic steps are listed here which makes this book one of the most practical of the batch today. We can make a difference! Highly-accessible writing and lots of color photographs make this a great read for ages 9 and up.
Inside Biosphere 2: Earth Science Under Glass, by Mary Kay Carson, photographs by Tom Uhlman
published in 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The ability to conduct controlled experiments in the great outdoors is enormously difficult, obviously. So many variables complicate the findings.
Enter Biosphere 2, a massive, glass-enclosed structure containing an amazingly-devised rain forest, desert ocean (yes, you’ll find out what that is), savannah, hillsides of soil, and teams of cool scientists researching important questions.
How do rainforests respond to ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide? How will climate change alter the acidity of water and what difference does that make? How are Earth’s landscapes reshaped by climate change? What’s the best way to harvest rainfall?
This lengthy account is superbly written and documented for budding science enthusiasts who are chomping at the bit to take their place among the people asking these questions, devising experiments to find answers, and developing policies for the long-term good of Earth-dwellers. Thorough and intriguing for ages 11 to adult.
A couple of years ago, Erin Gleeson published her bestselling cookbook, The Forest Feast. Lavishly decorated with her lovely watercolor illustrations and filled with simple, fresh, vegetarian recipes, it charmed the socks off of everybody.
Now, with the same touch of beauty and simplicity, she’s written an edition for kids. And it is sooo lovely! Look, here are the end-papers:
The pages of this book are bursting with gorgeous, full-color photos. Recipes with hand-lettering and watercolor flourishes cover everything from Pomegranate Hot Cider to Butternut Quesadillas and Plum Tartlets. All of them contain only a few, simple ingredients. Here is food that is a feast for the eyes as well as the palette. Food prepared as a gift of love and care. An artistic endeavor in which we appreciate the colors, textures, and flavors of fresh food.
So, why include this cookbook in an Earth Day post? Because the biggest impact you can make on your carbon footprint — even beyond not driving your car — is to give up or greatly reduce your consumption of beef. These recipes not only taste good, look splendid, and provide opportunity for community — they actually contribute to the health of the planet.
A beautiful choice for boys and girls ages 7 and up. It would make quite a good birthday gift, I think!
Posted in non-fiction, picture books, tagged book reviews, children's literature, cooking, Elizabeth Blackwell, environmentalism, Hypatia, journalism, julia child, Kenya, Mary Garber, Mother Teresa, picture books, Sisters of Charity, sportswriters, wangari maathai, women in science, women's history month on March 23, 2016| 8 Comments »
One of the joys of writing these posts for Women’s History Month is seeing, in this condensed moment of time, the array of callings women have embraced through time and around the world. I hope you enjoy discovering the women in today’s post, starting in Kenya with…
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees, by Franck Prévot, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
first published, 2012 in France; first U.S. edition published in 2015 by Charlesbridge
Wangari Maathai’s calling was to help heal her land, Kenya, from the rapid deforestation and resulting soil depletion, water contamination, loss of wildlife, and agricultural impoverishment. For this, she needed to be a stalwart person, unflinching in the face of huge odds, discrimination, and hostility.
Maathai was immensely successful, adding work for women’s rights and a more democratic government to her pursuits, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her work using environmental restoration to rebuild communities.
This engaging biography is gorgeously illustrated with ravishing color and includes a timeline, photographs, and websites for further investigation. Ages 6 and up.
Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber, Sue Macy, illustrated by C.F. Payne
published in 2016, a Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Mary Garber’s calling was to tell stories about athletes to the public, and particularly to give equal attention to stories of black athletes at a time when segregated sporting events meant they were largely ignored. She endured criticism, slights, and countless hurdles as she broke into a field previously reserved for men, yet after 50 years of sportswriting, she was voted into the sportswriters’ hall of fame.
I loved learning about Mary and her unflagging interest in the sporting world. I especially loved hearing how her own unappreciated status gave her empathy and awareness of other under-represented people, and of how she brought them into the spotlight. It’s lovely to see someone turn her hurts into good rather than bitterness. Magnificently warm, human illustrations flood these pages with period atmosphere. A delight for ages 7 and up.
Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child, written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland
published in 2012 by Schwartz & Wade
Julia Child’s calling was to make delicious food for the delight of others and to teach them to cook it as well. Her bubbly enthusiasm, irrepressible can-do attitude, boundless optimism made the world fall in love with her.
Jessie Hartland’s illustration-saturated, hand-lettered pages reflect Child’s ebullience marvelously.
Sheer delight from the end-papers right on through, from Julia’s birth in 1912 to her death in 2004. Plus — a recipe for crêpes so you can dabble in a little French cooking yourself! A joyous offering for ages 6 and up.
Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia, by D. Anne Love, illustrated by Pam Paparone
published in 2006 by Holiday House
Hypatia’s calling was to scholarship in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. Though she lived in 4th century Egypt — an era and location in which few women ever learned even to read or write — Hypatia had a father who believed in educating girls equally to boys. Hallelujah!
Revel in the wondrous span of ideas and pursuits opened to Hypatia, until she took her seat as a robed scholar, lecturing “a constant stream of students” from Egypt and regions beyond. I love this extraordinary person and I love her open-minded, open-hearted father. Beautifully illustrated in child-friendly acrylic paintings, this is ancient history that’s accessible to children ages 4 and up.
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu’s calling was to care for the poorest of the poor, treat the dying with dignity, tend to those who felt unwanted, all in the name of service to God. As Mother Teresa, she worked tirelessly her whole life to translate her faith into acts of charity.
Demi’s biography incorporates a number of Mother Teresa’s prayers and direct quotes as she traces her life from childhood in Macedonia and Croatia, to an abbey in Ireland, and then a long life in Calcutta. Demi’s intricate illustrations are splendid as always. Included is a chronicle of Mother Teresa’s journey toward canonization. An inspirational read for ages 8 to adult.
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell, by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
published in 2013 by Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company
Elizabeth Blackwell’s calling was to become a doctor at a time when only men were allowed in that profession, and to use her medical skills to treat many female patients who preferred the care of a woman.
Most children today cannot fathom the non-existence of women in medicine. Think of the skilled, compassionate, cutting-edge, and female, pediatric oncologists, psychiatrists, family physicians, who take such tremendous care of us.
Of course, this has not always been the case. When Elizabeth Blackwell decided to become a doctor, most people found the idea either ridiculous, impossible, or scandalous. Thank goodness she, like Hypatia, had a father who valued an equal education for his daughters, and that she also had the guts, intelligence, and perseverance to become the first woman doctor in America. This biography has all the verve of Blackwell herself, illustrated in Priceman’s fabulously-energetic line and color. A brilliant read for ages 5 and up.
Posted in fiction, tagged bengal tigers, children of military parents, children's literature, civil rights, diverse children's books, endangered species, environmentalism, india, loss, middle grad novels, pacifism, racial reconciliation, ranching, school integration, Sunderbans on February 3, 2016| 2 Comments »
I’ve met a bunch of awesome kids recently in the three novels highlighted today, all of whom I’d love to introduce to you.
They’re coming from widely different locations — a farm in the American South, an island off the coast of India, a ranch in Oregon. Each of them encounters substantial adversity and meets it with an authentic mixture of courage, reluctance, fear, and deep questions about life. All great choices for middle-grade readers and book clubs.
Sarah Willis has her life turned upside down in one split second when her younger sister, Robin, is critically injured on Sarah’s watch.
Over the next months, Sarah is engulfed in guilt and terrified about her sister’s injuries. She longs to experience peace and forgiveness, but isn’t convinced it’s possible for her, not while Robin still lies in a hospital bed.
Sarah moves to her grandparents’ farm during this crisis, into their warm, accepting embrace, and just down the road from her best friend, an African American girl named Ruby Lee.
As Sarah and Ruby start school, more difficulties await them. School integration has come to Shady Creek, and along with it the area’s first African American teacher for the predominantly white students.
Sarah navigates all this with some huge missteps, then has to find her way back with the help of her teacher, her faith, and her solid heart. Beautifully written characters interact with honesty in this great read for ages 9 and up.
Neel lives on an island of the Sunderbans, a tropical home of salty creeks, flowering jasmine, and wild guavas off the coast of India. It’s a home Neel loves to the core of his being, but it’s a tough place to make a living.
That’s why when the corrupt businessman, Gupta, pays men to harvest rare sundari trees or bully widows for rent payments, even good men like Neel’s father turn their backs on long-held values to earn his rupees.
Now, a tiger cub, normally protected in a reserve, has gone missing and Gupta is offering a huge reward for it. Neel and his sister know Gupta means to sell the skin and body parts on the black market if anyone captures it for him. Despite the immense dangers, they’re determined to find it first and return it to safety.
Meanwhile, another treasure is at stake: Neel’s future. He’s a bright student, who could bring honor and success to his family if he’d agree to move far from home for a good education. But the loss of his home-life is not something Neel is willing to accept.
Mitali Perkins weaves Neel’s inner turmoil and outward adventure together brilliantly in a marvelously diverse setting. Excellent, fast read (132 pages) with an environmental message and resources to learn more about efforts to save Bengal Tigers and bring about holistic development to the Sunderbans region. Ages 9 and up.
Brother is 11 years old, the youngest of five boys living with his dad and grandparents on their ranch in Eastern Oregon. As his story opens, his father has just received orders to head with his Army Reserve unit to Iraq for 14 months. That seems like an eternity to Brother.
With his older brothers off at their own military assignments and schools, Brother finds himself the only one left to help his grandparents keep the ranch going. Those tasks are brutally hard, and Brother has never been so sure that he’s cut out for either ranching or the military anyway, as generations of Aldermans before him seem to have been.
So there’s a raft of anxieties snarling in Brother’s heart and mind — about his dad’s safety, his grandparents’ health, the bum lambs he’s tending, the promise he made to his dad to keep the ranch in good shape, and his own misgivings about who he is meant to be. Brother doggedly moves forward with the wise help of his extraordinary grandparents — his Catholic grandmother and Quaker, pacifist grandfather — and the new priest in town, Father Ziegler.
This story is unusually deep, honest, and tender, probing issues of faith, calling, and identity in children. Deep chords of grief run through the story, yet the strength of these characters support us all the way through. Ages 10 and up.
P.S. Can I just say that I really dislike the cover of this book? I don’t like to make negative comments here, but if you look at the cover and say, “Hmmm…not for me,” I just want to recommend that you ignore it and give the story a chance.
Posted in non-fiction, picture books, tagged bears, book reviews, butterflies, California, children's literature, Costa Rica, earth day, ecology, environmentalism, humpback whales, marine biology, picture books, sequoias, trees, water on April 20, 2015| Leave a Comment »