An oil spill jeopardizes sea life in this environmental songbook.
If the fate of the planet is in children’s hands, reading them books like this one might be a wise idea. New York-based songwriter Lavin and award-winning illustrator Franco Feeney have joined creative forces with the goal of promoting clean energy. Inspired by the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the book begins with a cracked pipeline and ends with wildlife cleanup efforts—a chronicling best paired with folksy music, as it turns out. Pop in the book’s accompanying CD, and let The Guys & Dolphins All-Starfish Band take it away. Reminiscent of catchy classroom tunes like “The Green Grass Grows All Around,” Lavin’s song relies on repetitive rhythms and layering (“There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea / There’s a pipe in the hole in the bottom of the sea / There’s a crack in the pipe in the hole in the bottom of the sea”). It’s a tried formula but one that works well, with the exception of one or two crowded stanzas: “There’s water heated by the generator by the windmill up on the hill” was clearly intended for speedy-tongued singers and not parents who will stumble and bumble their way through this book if they decide to forego the music. Franco Feeney’s thoughtfully detailed illustrations of oil-slicked sea critters will tug at young readers’ heartstrings, and an educational appendix at the end offers in-depth discussion of renewable energy forms, a DIY craft project, sheet music and a checklist of how to save energy at home. The only thing missing, in fact, is an environmental cleanup team and a life-sized windmill. Ambitious? No doubt. Especially considering that a portion of the book’s net proceeds benefits the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA). Kudos to Lavin and Franco Feeney for making this songbook an entertaining—and earth-friendly—investment.
Play—don’t read—this important environmental message. (Picture book. 4-8)