Saturday, April 22, 2017

Four Picture Books that Celebrate Nature

Today is Earth Day all around the world and what better way to acknowledge a day set aside to support environmental protection than with these are four beautifully done picture books that celebrate nature.

Above and Below: Lift the Flaps to See Nature's Wonders Unfold
Text by Patricia Hegarty, illustrations by Hanako Chulow
Kane Miller, 2017, 22 pages, age 5+
Young readers can explore eight different animal habitats or ecosystems - the ocean, the rain forest, the north pole, a river, mountain caves, the African Savannah, cliff tops, and the forest - in this beautiful lift-the-flaps book. There is a short introduction to each ecosystem, followed by brief facts of the most common animals, insects, flora, and fauna found there at ground level. Lift the flap and you will discover what animals are usually found either above or below ground level, uncovering a world generally hidden from most of us. The flaps make this a fun interactive book and are a nice size for young hands, each one is the size of half a page, great for young hands and for further explorations. I used this book to introduce kids to a unit on ecosystems for Earth Day and they loved it, especially discovering what was under the flaps. The illustrations are both realistic and whimsical, and there is lots happening on each page, but not to the point of distraction. A lovely way to learn about the wider world around us.

Give Bees a Chance
word and picture by Bethany Barton
Viking BFYR, 2017, 40 pages, age 4+
The narrator of this book introduces the reader to his best friend Edgar. The two love all the same things except bees, Edgar just does not like bees, and especially not their stingers or sacs of venom, not after being stung (an event that is humorously depicted along). The narrator is crazy about bees, and begins a campaign to convince Edgar to change how he views bees, all 25,000 kinds of bees. Barton's illustrations may be characteristically cartoonish, but don't let that fool you. She has included a lot of information about bees throughout the book, including their anatomy, how a hive works, a nice two page spread about how honey is made (something I didn't know in detail), why they sting and how to get a bee to leave you along, their job as major pollinators, and how bees are disappearing in such large numbers. This is a book meant to introduce kids to bees, so read the Author's Note at the back, particularly readers who are already bee-lovers, and then, be sure to check out the end papers, front and back.

On the Wing by David Elliott
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Candlewick, 2014, 2017, 32 pages, age 4+
I keep returning to David Elliott's books about nature over and over again. From On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea, my young readers learned about nature and poetry together. Now they can do the same with On the Wing. In this collection of 16 poems, Elliot celebrates a wide variety of birds. The poems range from playful to serious, but all catch the essence of each individual birds. Pair this with Elliott's other books to give young readers a nice rounded poetic picture of nature and its beauty in our world. Stadtlander's beautiful realistic gouache illustrations place each bird in to natural habitat, and extend the poetic mood. With only two exceptions, each bird/poem pairing is spread over a double page. Kids are sure to develop a beginning appreciation for the avian world after reading On the Wing.

A River 
written and illustrated by Marc Martin
Chronicle Books, 2017, 44 pages, age 4+
The narrator of this book is a young girl sits at her desk drawing when she looks out the window at the river flowing by outside. Seeing how it stretches out in the distance, the narrator begins an imaginary journey floating down the river in a silver boat. Floating through a busy. congested city, past factories and their dark, dirty smoke, moving through the countryside past farms, past a waterfall taller than a building, finally entering a jungle full of different vegetation and animals, on to the ocean  with its variety of fish, then into the midst of a powerful ocean storm, only to find herself back at her desk, her daydream shattered by the heavy rain outside her window. This is a nice book for introducing young readers to the different environments in the world. The colorful, dramatic illustrations are done in watercolor, gouache, pencil and digital collage, and both compliment and extend the simple observations made by the young girl on her journey. After reading A River, go back to the first page and see how many of the prompts you can find that were incorporated into the daydream. There is must to discover and discuss in this lovely book

1 comment:

  1. Hello Alex, I would like to read all of these, but if I was forced to choose I would plump for the one about the bees or On the wing. On the Wing sounds beautiful, and the one about the bees makes me think of my youngest grandson (now 24) he was terrified of bees when he was small and would run away at the hint of one coming near. He is a big, tall, brave man now, but I have a feeling he still doesn’t like bees – not that I would tell anyone of course. :)
    I just shared your last picture on one of my Pinterest boards I hope that is OK.


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