Review of Oil

Oil
by Jonah Winter; illus. by Jeanette Winter
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    40 pp.    g
3/20    978-1-5344-3077-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-3078-5    $10.99

When the Exxon Valdez runs aground in 1989 and dumps oil along the Alaskan coast, the damage done is brutal, extensive, and long-lasting. With confidence in his young audience’s ability to grasp the seriousness of the spill and its environmental repercussions, Jonah Winter begins with an explanation of how oil is extracted from the earth and carried by pipelines through a tundra that Native people call home. When disaster happens, Jeanette Winter’s initially bright illustrations turn dark, as inky blobs and streaks of oil overtake the land and its inhabitants, turning birds and otters into oil-soaked lumps within sinister pools of browns and blacks that change to purples and yellows on the ocean’s surface. The efforts of environmentalists to save and clean the creatures bring some hope, but “most of the animals die.” Even decades later, when renewal of the animal populations has occurred, oil still seeps from the ground. It’s a sobering but necessary reminder that these disasters are not easily tidied up. An appended author’s note is clear on the timely importance of addressing this issue: “our dependence on oil will make the earth uninhabitable for many life-forms, including humans.” The book concludes with a list of further reading.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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