Monday, April 19, 2021

Four Books for Earth Day

This week we celebrate Earth Day for the 51st time. This year's theme, Restore the Earth, feels so timely as we begin to emerge from a world-wide pandemic and take time to look around to see what needs to be done. It just feels like the earth has been treated pretty badly the last few years, losing so many protections, and now, there is some work to be done so that we can live in harmony with the earth, her creatures, her plants and her waters. But first, it's important to educate ourselves and our children and here are a few books I have been sharing with my young readers.

Zonia's Rain Forest 
written and illustrated by Juana Martinex-Neal
Candlewick Press, 2021, 40 pages

Zonia, a young Asháninka living in the Peruvian Amazon's rain forest. Every morning, the rain forest beckons Zonia and she loves to walk through it, and visit all her old and new friends living there,  accompanied by a blue morpho butterfly. As she makes her rounds, Zonia greets a wide variety of creatures that also make their home in the rain forest - sloths, birds, jaguar, dolphins, a boa constrictor and turtles are just some of Zonia's friends. But one day, Zonia discovers something she's never seen before that truly frightens her - a part of the rain forest that has just been cut down and destroyed. Running home, Zonia tells her mother about it, who wisely responds that the forest is calling out for her help and Zonia vows to answer that call. Zonia's Rain Forest, written in such simple sentences, carries a big message for readers that they too can become activists and help to preserve earth's rain forests. Thee is some important back matter included that young readers should be made aware of, including an introduction to the Asháninka People, and A Few Facts about the Amazon, a list of Threats to the Amazon and a page devoted to all of Zonia's Friends (in order of appearance), followed by a list of links to resources. This is such an important book, not just for Earth Day but for every day. 

Reptiles Everywhere by Britta Teckentrup,
illustrated by Camilla de la Bedoyere
Big Picture Press/Candlewick Press, 2021, 32 pages

Did you know that reptiles have been around for more than 312 million years, that they swim, run, slither or glide, and that their size can range from as small at a thumbnail to more than 30 feet long? This is just a small fraction of the amount of reptilian information you will find in the book - and there are all kinds and they are everywhere. Young readers will learn just what a reptile is, whose been around the longest, what they eat and where they live. From reptile basics to how they have managed to stay around so long when other species have died out is covered, as is information about reptile babies, and the travels of a leatherback turtle from hatching in the sand to adult swimming in the depths of the ocean to returning to the sand and laying her own eggs is explored. There are reptiles hiding throughout the book and readers are challenged to find them. The book ends with a two page spread on Reptiles and People, which includes Reptiles At Risk. Yes, reptiles now need human help to survive and thrive - in other words, conservation. Suggestions for citizen science and volunteering are things that kids can do. And conservation has had reptile success, bringing back some that were on the verge of extinction. This is a fun and interesting book, with wonderful color illustrations, and an ideal companion for Earth Day projects. 

Masters of Disguise: Camouflaging Creatures &
Magnificent Mimics
by Marc Martin
Candlewick Studio, 2021, 56 pages

Two of the best ways an animal can protect itself are through camouflage and mimicry. In this lushly illustrated book are twelve different animals from around the world and the unique ways they each make themselves look like part of the environment they live in. From the panther chameleon living in  Madagascar and the polar bear in the Arctic Circle, to the owl butterfly of South and Central America, the gaboon viper of Africa, and the ornate wobbegong in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, each animal is given 2 double page spreads. The first two spreads includes short text bytes of information about them, perfect for curious young readers. Each of the text bytes are accompanied with several accurate illustrations showing the animal in their environment that complement each other perfectly. Turn the page and there is a densely illustration double page spread of the animals environment and a challenge to find what is hiding there. For example, there are 10 chameleons hiding in the lush foliage of a forest along with several other creatures. I found most, but not all (and it took a while, my young readers pretty much found the all - quickly). The book is slightly oversized and the page is just heavy enough to add to the richness of the illustrations, which are done with watercolor, pencil, and digital collage and are just spectacular. At the beginning of the book, the author points out that the unique habitats of each animal, and by extension, each animal, is under threat because of climate change and human activity, and reminds us that we can do things to protect them.  

A World of Plants by Martin Jenkins,
illustrated by James Brown
Candlewick Studio, 2021, 64 pages

The most important thing about plants, Jenkins writes, is that we are utterly dependent on them and what they do. And if we are so dependent on them, we should certainly know something about them and A World of Plants is a great place to begin. Here readers will find a wealth of information on 30 different topics beginning with photosynthesis, so necessary for food production to how plants produce the oxygen we breath. Each topic is given a 2-page spread that explains the subject in clear text and is accompanied with richly detailed illustrations. There is a section on seeds, including how they spread, the lives of plants and the different environments in which different kinds of plants thrive. I found the section on Ten Plants That Feed the World particularly interesting. These are the ten plants that produce the bulk of the world's food. I had never thought about this, yet when I saw the ten, I really wasn't surprised. Another topic I found interesting was Sacred and Symbolic Plants, some of which are often associated with healing and well-being, or the date-palm with its symbolic importance in Judaism and Christianity. Both religion have their origins in the desert of the Middle East, where dates grow. Jenkins ends his book with a section on Plants in Peril. Here he looks a 16 plants around the world that have been impacted by man activities resulting in habitat loss and climate change and are in danger of disappearing. 

You can find more information on Earth Day HERE and you can find a toolkit with suggestions for what children and adults can do HERE

I received these books from Candlewick Press in exchange for honest reviews. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Imagination Designs