Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

Rachel Carson 61AB358vSJL__SY446_BO1,204,203,200_Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World

Laurie Lawlor, Author

Laura Beingessner, Illustrator

Holiday House, Biography, Reprint, Aug. 31, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 6 – 9

Themes: Rachel Carson, Biologist, Environmentalist, Nature, Change

Opening: Early one morning in May 1922, young Rachel Carson discovered a secret place deep in the woods fragrant with pine needles. “Witchity-witchity-witchity!” called a yellowthroat.

Book Jacket Synopsis: “Once you are aware of the wonder and beauty of earth, you will want to learn about it,” wrote Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmentalist. Rachel found many adventurous ways to study nature. She went diving to investigate coral reefs and tracked alligators on a rumbling “glades buggy” through the Florida Everglades. She worked for the U.S. Fish and Service. However, one of the bravest things she did was to write and publish Silent Spring, a book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world. Powerful men tried to stop the publication of the book, but Rachel and her publishers persisted, and Silent Spring went on to become the book that woke up people to the harmful impact humans were having on our planet.

Why I like this book:

  • I love true stories about strong girls who find a passion, pursue it into adulthood, and end up changing the world. That’s exactly what Rachel Carson did. She is an inspiring role model for children, especially for girls. Her story is inspirational for children who love nature and want to help protect the environment.
  • Laurie Lawlor has written a beautiful and extraordinary biography that tells the story of a young Rachel Carson (born in 1897) whose love of nature is nurtured by her mother. Rachel’s mother encourages her to explore the family’s 65 acres of orchards and woods, watch the starry nights and recognize the melodies of favorite birds. Laura Beingessner’s warm and colorful illustrations are true to the time period of  the early 20th century.
  • Rachel attends college and graduate school at great sacrifice to her family. She becomes a biologist, travels the world, studies and writes about the oceans. She begins to notice disturbing trends and wonders how they are effecting the web of life. She questions the rising ocean temperatures, investigates the deadly impact of insecticides on birds, wildlife and people. Her discoveries lead her to write a courageous book that the average person can understand, Silent Spring, in 1962. Her mission to warn people of threats caused by humans creates a big commotion. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see the positive environmental changes she made in the world.

Resources: This book is really best suited for older children in the third to fifth grades. Don’t miss the lengthy Epilogue at the end about what happens after the book is published. There are other listed resources. Visit a national, state or local wildlife, waterfowl or marine life refuge in your area. Many have youth programs. Visit the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge website. Check out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a Conservation Kids page.

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


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.

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.