Tony and His Elephants by Cathleen Burnham

Earth Day, April 22, 2017

Tony and His Elephants: Best Friends Forever!

Cathleen Burnham, Author and Photographer

Crickhollow Books, Nonfiction, Apr. 22, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 7-12

Themes: Elephant Rescue, Sanctuary, Thailand, Environmental Conservation, Science, Nature, Kids Making a Difference

Opening: It was Songkran, Thailand’s New Year celebration. Crowds of cheering people waved flags. Songkran also was the hottest time of the year. All across Thailand, people celebrated with water fights. In the midst of the festivities were two little elephants: Baby Pumpuii and five-year-old Nam Cho. They were chained side by side.

Synopsis: Tony is an eight-year-old boy, whose family runs a small elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand. He becomes involved in the care of two young elephants, Baby Pumpuii and Nam Cho, rescued from an urban setting to a new life in the forests. But life in the wilds is not without its own drama and danger. Tony is quickly drawn into a deep and lasting relationship with these amazing and sensitive animals.

Why I like this book:

  • This is the third photodocumentary book by Cathleen Burnham featuring children involved in wild animal rescue activities. Her stories carry an inspiring and powerful message that you don’t have to be an adult to make a difference. Children like Tony are proof of how one small act of caring can have an important impact in helping wildlife in danger. It has become Burnham’s mission to share the stories of young environmental activists with other children.
  • Burnham’s book is a compassionate and well-crafted story. Her beautiful photographs document Tony’s life and work at the family elephant conservation center in northern Thailand. Tony mixes powdered elephant milk into a huge baby bottle and teaches Baby Pumpuii how to drink. He sleeps in a loft above the new elephants so that he can feed the baby four times a night. He climbs onto Nam Cho’s back and trains her in how to move forward, stop, and turn as he guides her along a dirt path into the jungle. They go for a swim in Mekong River. When a fire breaks out, Tony leads all the elephants to safety in the cool mountaintops, while his parents battle the fire.
  • Burnham’s book helps children understand and respect the interconnection between humans and all life. She introduces children to “cultural learning, language, animal facts, geography, and laws  intended to protect wild animals from black market trade or from being abused to serve human interests.” Like Tony, children worldwide will be inspired to do their part to make a difference in their communities.

Tony feeds Baby Pumpuii a bottle of milk.   Photo Courtesy of Cathleen Burnham

Favorite Lines: “These will be your elephants, Tony,” said his father. “Forever?” asked Tony. “Until the day you die, Tony, just like any mahout,” said his father.

It was the beginning of a lifelong bond. Tony, Nam Cho, and Baby Pumpuii would love and protect one another for the rest of their lives.

Resources:  Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of Tony and His Elephants. To learn more about the amazing things children are doing to protect wildlife around the globe, visit the World Association of Kids and Animals (WAKA) and get involved. Check out The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, to learn about the retired circus elephants living in this safe 2,700-acre refuge in companionship with other elephants. For more ideas about how you can make a difference in your community, visit the Earth Day website.

*View Joanna Marple’s inspiring review of Tony and His Elephants on her  website.

Cathleen Burnham is a journalist, writer and wildlife photographer. In addition to Tony and His Elephants, Burnham is the author of Doyli to the Rescue, and the Tortuga Squad. They are the first three books in a series of six books that profile wildlife preservation efforts being undertaken by kids around the globe.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers share 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.

**I was provided with a copy of Tony and His Elephants in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is the Earth

Earth Day, April 22, 2016!

This is the Earth61y9PNfPY3L__SY498_BO1,204,203,200_This is the Earth

Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, Authors

Wendell Minor, Illustrator

Harper Collins, Nonfiction, Feb. 23, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Pages: 40

Themes: Caring for the planet, Living in harmony with the environment, Pollution, Conservation, Respect, Healing

Opening: “This is the land, / fertile, alive, / crawling with creatures / that help it to thrive.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: This Is the Earth takes readers on a journey through hundreds of years as it explores how humans have affected the environment and shows the ways in which we can all care for the planet. Every action we take has an impact on our surroundings — and everyone can help save the world.

This is the Earth

that we treat with respect,

where people and animals

interconnect,

where we learn to find balance

between give and take

and help heal the planet

with choices we make.

Why I like this book:

Diane Shore and Jessica Alexander have written a very sensitive and uplifting story for children about the condition of the land, air and water of our planet. The text is beautifully written in rhyming verse and makes it easy for young children to digest. Their goal is to help children realize the importance of living in harmony with our planet in a positive way.

This is a good introductory book for children. Each double-page spread gently focuses on how our planet has changed from its beginning pristine state. It shows how the arrival of the busy industrial age and the modernization of the planet have affected the earth. The book helps children understand and respect the interconnection between humans and all life.

This Is the Earth is about choices. It shows how every little action we take impacts the ecosystems and environment. Everyone can help heal the planet. The story encourages children to take action and live a greener life by riding bicycles, using less water in the shower, turning off lights in unused rooms, recycling trash, planting trees and gardens, and treating wildlife with respect. This is a hopeful book about taking care of  our precious home.

Wendell Minor’s illustrations are breathtaking and support the books very positive message. His rich and colorful watercolors convey a power that will captivate and appeal to children.

Resources: This is a great classroom book.  Involve students in cleaning up the school yard, planting trees on the property, and separating recyclable items. For more ideas about how you can make a difference, visit the Earth Day website.

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

Trash Talk: Moving Toward A Zero-Waste World

Earth Day 2016

Trash Talk 61w0hr-TiXL__SX424_BO1,204,203,200_Trash Talk: Moving Toward A Zero-Waste World

Michelle Mulder, Author

Orca Book Publishers, Nonfiction, Apr. 1, 2015

Pages: 48

2016 Book of the Year for Children Award

Green Earth Book Award 2016

Suitable for Ages: 8-12 years

Themes: Garbage, Refuse and refuse disposal, Recycling, Reusing, Composting, Getting involved

Book Jacket Synopsis: What is a garbologist? How many people live in the Cairo garbage dump? What are the top ten types of human garbage found in the ocean? Where is the Trash Palace?

Did you know that humans have always generated garbage, whether it’s a chewed on leg bone, an old washing machine or a broken cell phone? Trash Talk digs deep into the history of garbage, from Minoan trash pits to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and uncovers some of the many innovative ways people over world are dealing with waste.

Why I like this book:

  • Michelle Mulder’s Trash Talk is an inspiring call to action for teens to think about garbage in different ways and get involved in a zero-waste world. Her writing style is very conversational as she shares many of her own experiences from her travels around the world. Every page is filled with colorful photographs and intriguing “Trash Fact” trivia sidebars. The book is divided into four major chapters that deal with the abundance of waste, alternative solutions to landfills, dumpster diving, and developing a zero-waste life style. The book is filled with examples of things youth and adults are doing worldwide to address the problems with trash in their communities.
  • Typically we think of garbage as stinky, germy and dangerous. But, sometimes it is a treasure or can be reimagined into something else. Old tires, jeans and books can be used to insulate houses. Abandoned fishing nets can be made into carpets for office buildings. Mulder provides alternatives to polluted landfills, incinerators that release toxic gases, and dumping into the ocean. She focuses on countries like New Zealand, where 71 percent of the communities are aiming for zero waste. People can drop off their junk at a Trash Palace where others can purchase items others don’t want.
  • Mulder’s book is also filled with some historical information about how humans have dealt with trash over the centuries. New York City banned people throwing trash into the streets in 1850 and organized trash collection. Recycling was popular in the 1940s during World War II, when people worldwide recycled and donated items like plastic to help the war effort to make equipment, cockpits, and bombs.
  • Trash Talk is one of many nonfiction books under the Orca Footprint series for middle grade students.  The books are well-written, researched and filled with photos and stories of things youth are doing to create change in their world. There are many resources at the end of Trash Talk that include books, movies and websites. Trash Talk and the books listed below belong in every school library.

Michelle Mulder speaks from experience as her life-long interest in trash began back when she was living in a college dorm. When summer arrived, she began to find perfectly boxed food items, pans, books and furniture pitched because they didn’t fit into a suitcase. She loved to go dumpster diving. Visit Michelle Mulder at her website which lists all her beautiful books and has teacher guides for the classroom.

Check out the following Orca Footprint books for Earth Day 2016.

What's the Buzz 9781459809604_p0_v1_s192x300Every Last Drop9781459802230_p0_v2_s192x300Take Shelter 9781459807426_p0_v1_s192x300

Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

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.

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Joyce Sidman, Author

Beth Krommes, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Company, Fiction, 2006

Suitable for: Ages 6 and up

Themes: Meadows, Science, Nature, Poetry

Opening/Synopsis:  “On calm, clear summer nights, the meadow cools down quickly.  Grasses, flowers, leaves, and even insects become cooler than the warm air around them. Just as it does on a cold can of soda pop, water vapor in the air condenses on those cool surfaces, forming dew.  Then, as dawn comes and the sun touches them, the dew drops evaporate back into the air.”  Written in both verse and prose, this is story of a living and breathing meadow that is dependent and connected to life, and is constantly changing.  There are beautiful poems about the awakening meadow, the animal life, birds and insects, the flowering plants and grasses that offer a feeding frenzy for all, and trees that provide shade.   Children are taken on a journey into the meadow from sunrise to sunset.  Each poem brings science to life.  The poems vary from mysterious and captivating, to silly and magical.

What I like about this book:  Both author and illustrator fell in love with meadows as young children and found them enchanting. Joyce Sidman has written such a magical book, alternating between double spreads of verse and prose that add interesting  science details about how life coexists in the meadow.  Children will find that each poem is a riddle to solve about butterflies, snakes, rabbits, fox and deer.  The text that follows provides the answers and interesting facts.  Krommes illustrations are a feast for the eyes.  Each illustration is made by a scratchboard technique that is rich and colorful.  Children will enjoy studying every detail on the page.  With Earth Day April 22, and Poetry Month in April, I found this book a lovely celebration of both.  The author and illustrator have also released a book in 2011, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature.

Activities:  Since this is Earth Day weekend, it would be a nice time for a spring outing with your child.   Visit a meadow in your area.   Many local Park and Recreation Divisions, and Nature Preserves provide guided tours and  programs.   Let you child hunt for treasures that they can take home and make a collage of their own meadow as an earth day contribution.  For Earth Day resources, click on this Earth Day link .

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.