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Love the Earth 2017

Earth Day and the March for Science are coming up on Saturday, April 22, 2017. The following picture books introduce children to some of the challenges facing our Earth, and provide suggestions to help on a scale they can manage. For more on this topic, see Kathleen T. Isaacs’s Horn Book Magazine article “Fostering Wonder.”

bang_rivers-of-sunlight_170x206In Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth, Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm bring their Sunlight series’ energy-centered perspective on Earth systems to the water cycle. The sun serves as narrator, showing us how its energy, upon reaching the Earth, interacts with water and supports life. The science is superb, moving well beyond the typical water cycle representations to emphasize the dynamic, constant, nonlinear movement of massive amounts of water. Bang’s illustrations feature yellow dotted waves of energy and translucent water molecules sparkling over green and brown lands, blue skies, and indigo seas. The sun ends with a warning about the need for conservation and management of water resources. (Scholastic/Blue Sky, 5–8 years)

drummond_pedal powerWith Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World, Allan Drummond furthers his theme of working toward a greener planet (see, for example, Energy Island and Green City) by taking young readers to Amsterdam, a city that turned automobile- and carbon monoxide–clogged streets into bicycle- and family-friendly boulevards. Flashing back to the 1970s, Drummond’s straightforward text and near-impressionistic illustrations show readers a city beginning to choke on its own traffic. Citizens, led by activist Maartje Rutten, wanted to ride bicycles, and they took to the streets in protest. An author’s note reveals Drummond’s personal interest in his material. (American readers may note the absence of helmets, not in widespread use in Amsterdam at the time.) (Farrar, 5–8 years)

root_anywhere farm“For an anywhere farm, / here’s all that you need: / soil / and sunshine, / some water, / a seed.” Phyllis Root’s upbeat rhyming text for Anywhere Farm details all the places one can grow things: “Plant a farm in a crate! / Plant a farm in a cup! / In a box on a balcony / ten stories up! / Plant a farm in a truck! / In a box on a bike! / Plant an anywhere farm / anywhere that you like.” The book then goes on to suggest what one might plant (“Kale in a pail. / Corn in a horn”) and who might come to visit one’s “anywhere farm” (bees, butterflies, birds — and neighbors). G. Brian Karas’s mixed-media illustrations focus on one little girl who starts everything off with a single plant but eventually include a whole neighborhood that participates in transforming a barren urban space into a lush, flourishing garden. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

thompson_faraway foxIn Jolene Thompson’s Faraway Fox, a lone fox observes its environs — once a forest, now suburbia — and remembers how things used to be. The angular illustrations by Justin K. Thompson, with their retro-looking architectural details, show housing developments, stylish but sterile in appearance. But then the fox sees construction workers building a wildlife preserve and “highway wildlife underpass,” a pass-through below the highway that allows animals to safely cross lanes of traffic, and in this case allows our fox to escape into a forest and be reunited with its kind. An author’s note tells more about these types of structures, which are more prevalent in Europe than the United States (but the “biggest wildlife crossing in the world” is being planned in Southern California). (Houghton, 5–8 years)

From the April 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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