Tag Archives: environment

PPBF – One Earth

Welcome dear readers! It’s good to be back as the scent of pumpkin spice and the feel of dewy grass on chilly mornings remind us that fall is on its way.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book, a collaboration between an American author and a Brazilian illustrator, stars something that we all share: our beautiful earth. Enjoy!

Title: One Earth

Written By: Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated By: Rogério Coelho

Publisher/Date: Worthy Kids, a division of Hachette Book Group/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: environment, concept book, counting, rhyme, low word count, multicultural

Opening:

One wide, sweeping sky.

Two honeybees.

Three bunnies in a nest.

Four redwood trees.

Brief Synopsis:

In this rhyming picture book, a diverse group of children count up to 10 to celebrate some amazing things about our one world, and then count down from 10 to share some simple steps to preserve this earth.

Links to Resources:

  • Spend an afternoon in your garden or a park and try to count groups of natural things that you find there (ie, one sun, two butterflies, etc.);
  • Make a list of simple steps you can take to help preserve the earth, and practice one or more of them with your family, friends, or classmates.

Why I Like this Book:

This simple, rhyming picture book encourages young children to experience the beauty of nature and to reflect on the ways even one person can help preserve it.

I love that Spinelli uses simple, rhyming text to create so many layers: One Earth functions as a counting book from 1-10 and back again, a reminder to explore and enjoy the beauties of nature, and a call to preserve our earth.

For those cooped up at home who are yearning to travel, Spinelli’s rhymes take readers from farm fields, to redwood forests, and to the beach where seagulls cruise. And the ideas to save the earth are simple things that young children can do themselves or with their families, like picking up trash and turning in deposit bottles.

Coehlo’s bright, detailed, and whimsical illustrations will appeal to young listeners, I think. I also love the diversity depicted, including varied locations and a multicultural group of children.

A Note about Craft:

One Earth is a rhyming poem without a clear story arc or main character, but it works on so many levels to draw readers in and encourage us to take action to save our earth. And with the multicultural cast of characters which Coelho includes, it’s a vivid reminder that, despite our different situations and abilities, each of us can take action to make the world better.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – The Mess That We Made

Although in-person beach clean-ups and other activities to show our concern about the world are on hold at the moment, I hope you and yours were able to participate in some of the many virtual events held for Earth Day 2020. One important way we can stay involved is by reading about the problems of pollution and how we can help, in books such as today’s Perfect Picture Book.

Title: The Mess That We Made

Written By: Michelle Lord

Illustrated By: Julia Blattman

Publisher/Date: Flashlight Press/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: environment, pollution, oceans, plastic, garbage, activism, rhyming

Opening:

THIS is the mess that we made.

Brief Synopsis: A rhyming, cumulative tale that recounts the impact that trash has on our oceans and marine life, and what we can do about it.

Links to Resources:

  • Check out the informative back matter that explains ocean pollution and includes many ideas to take action;
  • We may be sheltering at home now, but we can still take action by starting a home garden, by looking for items around the house that we can reuse, or by writing to corporations and/or legislators to keep our waters clean and safe for everyone;
  • Watch the book trailer.

Why I Like this Book:

With its cumulative rhyming text and bright underwater scenes, The Mess That We Made is a wonderful call to action to safeguard our oceans and marine life. I love that children are at the center of the cover illustration and evident on each spread – all of our actions are important, whether we’re young or old. And unlike many books that focus on either the problem side or the solution side, The Mess That We Made makes clear that even though we got our world into the mess, we also have the means to get us out of it.

The Mess That We Made is a wonderful addition to ecology literature, particularly well-suited for younger classrooms and homes.

A Note about Craft:

Saving the earth is a huge, and daunting topic. How many of us have asked the questions, “What can I do?” “How can my actions make a difference?” By relating this daunting topic in lilting rhyme, that builds to a dismal scenario but then reverses to a hopeful one, and by wrapping the story in bright illustrations with children central to the action, the author and illustrator, I think, leave the reader with a feeling of hope and a desire to take action. That they provide many ways to do so without sounding preachy adds to this book’s appeal.

Flashlight Press publishes children’s books that “explore and illuminate the touching and humorous moments of family situations and social interactions through captivating writing and outstanding illustrations.”

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Pairing – for a Cloudy Day

I found these two new picture books sitting on a shelf near each other in the Children’s Room at the New York Public Library. Perhaps it was a hint that they’d make a perfect pairing?

Lola Shapes the Sky

Author: Wendy Greenley

Illustrator: Paolo Domeniconi

Publisher/Date: Creative Editions/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: clouds, imagination, creativity, weather, acceptance

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A cloud with a mind of her own and a gift for making awe-inspiring shapes encourages her friends to go beyond their practical functions and expand their imaginative horizons.

Read a review by Julie Rowan-Zoch.

Picture the Sky

Author & Illustrator: Barbara Reid

Publisher/Date: Scholastic Canada/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: sky, clouds, environment, emotions, art, weather

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In this companion to the bestselling Picture a Tree, Barbara Reid has us look up . . . way up

Wherever we may be, we share the same sky. But every hour, every day, every season, whether in the city or the forest, it is different. The sky tells many stories: in the weather, in the clouds, in the stars, in the imagination. Renowned artist Barbara Reid brings her unique vision to a new topic – the sky around us. In brilliant Plasticine illustrations, she envisions the sky above and around us in all its moods.

Picture the sky. How do you feel?

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because they both encourage readers to imaginatively look up at the sky, and find magic in the clouds. But while the folks down on the ground are the main characters of Picture the Sky, the clouds, and in particular, Lola, take center stage in Lola Shapes the Sky.

Perfect Pairing – Heads to the Hen House

I think we all know the story of the little red hen. But have you seen these two recent twists on the traditional tale?

 

Holy Squawkamole! Little Red Hen Makes Guacamole 

Author: Susan Wood

Illustrator: Laura González

Publisher/Date: Sterling Books/2019

Ages: 3 and up

Themes: fractured folktale, hard work, self-reliance, persistence, Spanish words

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

This tasty take on the classic Little Red Hen story has a deliciously spicy twist! 
Yum, guacamole! That’s what Little Red Hen craves, and she could use some help gathering and mashing the ingredients. So she asks her friends, including an armadillo, snake, and iguana, to lend a hand. Everyone just says “no.” But after Little Red Hen works hard to make the scrumptious fresh guac, all the animals want a taste. In a fun departure from the original tale, Little Red Hen cooks up a comeuppance for the slackers that they’ll never forget!

Read a review by Susanna Leonard Hill.

The Little Green Hen

Author & Illustrator: Alison Murray

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2019 (originally published by the Watts Publishing Group, Great Britain/2018)

Ages: 2-5

Themes: environment, helping others, fractured folktale

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A fun-filled retelling of The Little Red Hen with important messages about caring for our environment and working together!

Read a review at New York Journal of Books.

I paired these books because they are timely and ingenious takes on a traditional tale. Set in Mexico, Holy Squawkamole! tells the tale of the red hen (gallinita roja) who needs help making guacamole. As in the original tale, her friends won’t help until she teaches them a lesson. In The Little Green Hen, the hen tends her apple tree home and establishes an orchard with the help of a dog, sparrow and squirrel. But other animals refuse to help, until disaster strikes, and they learn the lesson of caring for the environment. I love how both authors updated the original tale by setting it in a new locale, Mexico and an apple tree, and adding timely twists, the addition of Spanish terms and a Mexican food in Holy Squawkamole! and an environmental theme in Little Green Hen.

 

 

Perfect Pairing – Safe & Snug With Me

As winter holds sway in the northern hemisphere, I’ve paired two picture books from a talented author and illustrator duo that are perfect for a cozy read by a fireplace.

You’re Safe With Me

Author: Chitra Soundar

Illustrator: Poonam Mistry

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: animals; stormy weather; environment; reassurance

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When the moon rises high and the stars twinkle, it is bedtime for the baby animals of the Indian forest. But tonight, when the skies turn dark and the night grows stormy, the little ones can’t sleep. SWISH-SWISH! CRACK-TRACK! FLASH-SNAP! goes the storm. Only Mama Elephant with her words of wisdom can reassure them, “You’re safe with me.”

Read a review at Library Mice.

 

You’re Snug With Me

Author: Chitra Soundar

Illustrator: Poonam Mistry

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2018

Ages:  4-8

Themes: animals; polar bears; Arctic; conservationism; reassurance

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

At the start of winter, two bear cubs are born, deep in their den in the frozen north. “Mama, what lies beyond here?” they ask. “Above us is a land of ice and snow.” “What lies beyond the ice and snow?” they ask. “The ocean, full of ice from long ago.” And as they learn the secrets of the earth and their place in it, Mama Bear whispers, “You’re snug with me.”

Read a review at Read It, Daddy!

I paired these books because they’re beautifully written and illustrated by the same pair and feature similar ecological themes. But while You’re Safe With Me features several different jungle animals in tropical India, You’re Snug With Me focuses on one polar bear Mama and her cubs in the frozen north. I enjoyed Soundar’s lyrical storytelling in both, and I especially appreciated how Mistry adapted her distinctive illustration style to two radically different environments. Although these may not technically be a series yet, I hope that this talented pair collaborate on a future environmental tale.