Our Earth – Earth Day April 22

Our Earth9781897187845_p0_v1_s260x420Our Earth:  How Kids are Saving the Planet

Janet Wilson, Author and Illustrator

Second Story Press, Biography, 2010

Suitable for Ages: 7 -12

Themes:  Kids Saving the Planet, Conservation, Environmentalists, Youth Activists

OpeningEvery living thing shares one home — our Earth.

Synopsis:  This is a collection of stories featuring 10 children, ages 7 to 17, who are doing amazing things to save the earth.  The youths live in every part of the world. Wilson says that nearly half the earth’s population is young.  Many are compassionate,  creative and share a love of nature.  She features Ryan Hreljac from Canada who is building wells in Africa to bring people clean water…Janine Licare from Costa Rica who is saving the rainforest and its animals…Adeline Tiffanie Suwana from Indonesia whose organization, Sahabat Alam (Friends of Nature)  plants coral in damaged ocean reefs and mangroves trees to prevent damage from hurricanes and natural disasters…Fang Minghe of China and his Green Eyes Group rush to the outdoor markets looking for endangered breeds of animals and secretly films the sellers and reports them to the police…Sam Levin from the USA who has created a student run organic school vegetable garden which supplies the school’s cafeteria with fresh fruits and vegetables and donates food to needy families….and William Kamkwamba of Malawi, who built a windmill to harness the wind and create electricity for his village.  These are only a few of the inspiring stories.

Why I like  this book:  This is an exciting book for Earth Day, April 22!   I have watched children activists grow in numbers worldwide for years.  Janet Wilson has written a very empowering book about young people who have a strong desire to create a healthier world.  Each two-page spread includes a portrait of each child by Wilson, photographs of their work, quotes and information about their projects.  In the opening of Our Earth, Wilson shares a version of a traditional Aboriginal story about the Rainbow Warriors, “children who have a strong love of nature and a desire to find ways to be part of the solution.”  “They are our Rainbow Warriors. “

Resources:  Wilson devotes a section to “Kids Create!” at the end of the book where children can learn more about conservation and find ways to get involved at home, school and in their community.  You can visit Janet Wilson at her website and view her other books on peace and young activists.  I also learned about an organization, Kids Are Heroes, where kids are making a big difference in our world.  Vivian Kirkwood, at Positive Parental Participation, introduced me to this inspiring group of kids.

Mama Grizzly Bear

Mama Grizzly Bear9781616333041_p0_v1_s260x420Mama Grizzly Bear

Margot Finke, Author

Gloria Gaulke Swan, Illustrator

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., October 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 6-12 yrs.

Themes: Grizzly Bears, Conservation,Nature, Threats, Protection

Opening/Synopsis“The great grizzly mama is awesome and wild/She’ll tear you to bits if you threaten her child/With her shaggy coat flying, she hunts down a meal/Her sharp teeth and claws make it look like a steal.”  Follow Mama Grizzly bear through the year as she hunts for food, prepares for winter hibernation and gives birth to her cubs.   By spring the cubs are ready to play and explore their new world.  But, Mama will spend the spring and summer teaching them lessons in survival, foraging for food and fishing.

Why I like this book:  Margot Finke is known for her beautiful rhyming picture books.  She has written a charming and informative book for children about Grizzly bears.  It is a great classroom book to teach children about the North American Grizzly bears.  Finke’s goal is to inspire a new generation of children to feel compassion towards animals that are threatened or endangered.  She hopes that some day they will want to take an active role in protecting them from their fiercest enemy – man — who cuts down their habitat.  The illustrations by the late GLoria Gaulke Swan, are rich and warm in color, and the detail is inviting.

Resources:  Margot Finke has created a fun section For Cool Kids at the end of the book where children can find resources on conservation for Grizzly Bears, free Grizzly Screensavers, and Grizzly Bear eCards.  The last page of the book is a Word Puzzle.  She also has a fun place on her website called Wild US Critters, where children can learn about grizzlies and other US animals.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Mama Miti, and We Planted a Tree

The two books I am reviewing in this post are related to the Green Belt Movement to plant trees in Kenya.  They carry beautiful messages for the  world, and I believe children will find them engaging.  A wonderful way to introduce children to the Green Belt Movement and reforestation.  I also had the opportunity to hear these wonderful authors speak at the 2011 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Conference in August.

Mama Miti, is a picture book written by Donna Jo Napoli, about Dr. Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Peace Prize recipient, who changed her country by planting trees.  The book is illustrated by Kadir Nelson, who combines oils with a collage of fabrics that vibrantly honor the spirit of Kenya and its people.  This book is simply stunning with an important message for the children of the world.

Wangari grew up listening to the stories of her elders about how the droughts came and dried up the land.  All life suffered.  But the men of her village held ceremonies under the sacred fig tree and the skies blessed them with rain.  It was because of these stories she developed a love and respect of trees and the earth.  When she grew up she planted trees in her backyard.  Over the years women came from far distances to ask the wise Wangari for advice when they were starving,  had sick cows, had dirty water, needed fire wood to cook, or lumber to build strong homes.   Wangari gave the women special tree seedlings which they planted.    Those trees grew, and the women passed along the seeds to their neighbors in their villages.   Word passed from woman to woman throughout Kenya.   Trees that had  once disappeared flourished over time.   Wangari had started a very large movement by planting one tree at a time.   Now, she is teaching the world.    She is known as Mama Miti — the mother of trees.   Her message is one of peace and living in harmony with nature.  Another outstanding book for the classroom.

Note:  Dr. Maathai, a long time activist for reforestation, passed away on Sept. 25, 2011, at age 71.   Napoli’s book is such a beautiful tribute to Dr. Maathai’s life work. 

We Planted a Tree, is written by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake for pres-school to fourth grade.  Written in simple lyrical language, Muldrow’s text  adds to the beauty of the story:  “Fat little buds appeared on the branches…The sunshine went into the buds… And soon they burst open…Everywhere it was pink, and we were dizzy with springtime.”   Award-winning illustrator Staake’s pictures are colorful and inviting.  Again, Muldrow celebrates Kenya’s successful Green Belt Movement with this lovely book.

Two families from different parts of the world plant a tree.  A family in Brooklyn plants a tree in a small backyard while a family in Kenya plants a tree.  As the trees take root and grow, they begin to have an impact on the world.  They anchor the soil,  keep rainwater in the soil so that gardens can be planted, provide shade, help clean the air, provide food for families and animals, and sap for syrup.  The book offers hope to a world faced ecological issues.  An excellent book for the classroom.

 

Copyright (c) 2011,  Patricia Howe Tilton, All Rights Reserved