Tag Archives: nature

Girl power. Tree power.

kate windIt’s windy at the top of the hill.  All manner of things are flying around in the wind – hats, birds, dust, shutters.  Fortunately, Kate is down below with seedlings, and over time, the seedlings will grow into trees that shelter birds, provide shade, and help make the hill less windy.  A friendship is made, a resource is treasured.

Kate, who tamed the wind by Liz Garton Scanlon and Lee White

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Biodiversity, bad days, and you

life-9781481451628_hrLife can be amazing, even when it seems like you’re in a dark wilderness, right?  Maybe?

This book is sure beautiful, and it’s inspirational, too, in the best possible way.  We’re reminded that life starts small, but it grows – plants and animals and humans, too.  At our worst moments, can we think of the beauty and hope and remember what we need to care for and protect and be awed by?   It’s a lot for a child to commit to on a crappy day, but it could spark some interesting conversations about the power of nature to take us outside of ourselves and our bad moments.  It might not solve a big problem, but a trip outside to look at a tree or the clouds or a city-dwelling hawk circling in the sky might just give us a chance to breathe, regroup, start again.

Wonderful illustrations.

Life by Cynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel

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A banana, a smile, a rowboat

many moonsWhat do you see when you look at the moon?

It can be so many things – a bow, the eye of an owl, an expectant mom. Many Moons is a whimsical conversation starter for little ones, I think, both about what the moon is and why we see different things when we see it, and about shapes and patterns and science.  That might be a lot to pile on to one book, but it’s just the beginning.  And there are croissants baking.  So I’m in.

Many Moons by Rémi Courgeon

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Earth Day, every day

earth_book_jacket.jpgThere’s so much beauty in our world.  It hardly seems necessary to create art about it when it’s all around us, right?  But art (and poetry) create a beauty of a different sort, something that connects us to the greater world when your day is not filled with sunny, green, stunning mountain landscapes – when you’re more likely to be looking at strip malls and concrete.

The art in Make the Earth Your Companion takes the words of J. Patrick Lewis and, like a ripple in a pond, sends them out in layers of meaning.  Sounds kind of intellectually fancy, doesn’t it?  And yet, that’s exactly how the book felt to me.  I’d read the words and look at the illustrations, and just as I was turning the page, something extra would catch my eye–small details that could have been left out but weren’t, images that brought me back to the words.  Every page I found myself thinking that the next page could not possible be better, and then it was.  Beautiful, thought-provoking, and oh, so fancy.

Make the Earth Your Companion by J. Patrick Lewis and Anna & Elena Balbusso


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Wild about nature

out of schoolThank you, Anna Comstock, for spending your whole life showing us the value of science education.  I didn’t know you did that.  My high school biology teacher must have been a fan, since I still remember his enthusiasm for taking science outside, even when we were stuck in a basement room without much natural light.  For our big project of the year – to collect and identify 50 examples of something – he approved everything from wildflowers to road kill (pictures only) to wheat samples, but it had to be something you found outdoors. That would have been right up Anna’s alley.

Some of my happiest memories are of being outside, seeing some beautiful part of the landscape, finding hidden flowers, taking a walk around the block and seeing what’s new and green, or going to a nearby lake to look at an eagle’s nest, stick my toes in the water, or look over the bridge to see what’s below.

So her life and her work is a wonderful chapter of history to share with kids before going on a nature walk.  “More about Anna” fills us in with additional details about her life and career, so this book is also a way to talk about changing roles in society, since she was clearly ahead of her time in keeping her profession after marriage and becoming a university professor.

Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade & Jessica Lanan

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“Hello. I am ROZZUM unit 7134, but you may call me Roz.”

wildrobotI’m not sure what I expected when I picked up this book, but whatever it was, it wasn’t what I got – surprise, delight, joy.  If you’ve read my last few reviews, you might be thinking that I just love everything.  Not true.  Not true at all.

This book is a special one, though.  In the day since I finished it, I’ve already recommended it to four people, suggested it would make a great class read-aloud for many ages, and thought about its possible connections to discussions on the environment, global warming, nature vs. nurture, or maybe even general parenting issues.

So what is it about Roz and The Wild Robot?  I’m not sure it really fits one genre.  You could mentally file it with something like science fiction or books-with-talking-animals or books-about-friendship or throw it in with stories about nature, living in the wild, or fitting in after a move.  Is it a little dystopian?  Hmmm.  There’s whimsical fantasy, action and adventure, overcoming adversity, living as part of a diverse world.   There are really just too many categories to Venn diagram this book.

It’s just a really, really good story.  You connect with Roz, because she’s trying to figure out and adapt to a world she doesn’t understand.  You cheer her successes.  You’re afraid when things go wrong.  You like the way she is always trying to help others, even if that might only be a wired-in survival strategy.  You’re not sure if she’s experiencing emotions, but you experience emotions.

It should come as no surprise that this author wrote and illustrated one of my favorite picture books, The Curious Garden.  The Wild Robot’s illustrations are also wonderful, and although this is Brown’s middle grade debut, I sure hope there’s more where this came from.  I love picture books, but we’ll all be missing out if he doesn’t keep writing things like this. Or not like this.  I’m expecting the unexpected from him now, although perhaps that won’t help me a bit – he’ll just surprise me again.  Wonderful, quirky, fun, light-filled.  Wow.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

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