A call to action for kids to make positive differences in their neighborhoods.

CoCo & Dean

EXPLORERS OF THE WORLD

Scofield introduces ideas of environmental sustainability to young readers in this accessible debut.

In three short stories, young siblings Chloe and Dean make discoveries about the amount of waste that humans create. The children live in a suburban neighborhood, where their two parents work, and they play in the woods behind their house. In the first story, Chloe, whose nickname is CoCo, shows her love of animals. When a cardinal seems to be following her, she decides that it’s trying to tell her something. She then notices how the bird uses everything it has, and the girl realizes just how much she wastes in her own life. In the next tale, the kids climb a mountain near their grandparents’ house and find out, to their dismay, that it’s an old landfill—an artificial mountain of trash. In the last story, during a family vacation to Hawaii the children are horrified to learn about the great “Plastic Vortex” that causes trash to wash up on the beach in a place they consider paradise. In each instance, the siblings take action, showing ways that even kids can make positive impacts on the environment. The format, which provides questions at the end of each tale, makes the collection well-suited for use in schools teaching environmental topics, Scout troops, or environmental clubs looking for material to inspire members to create projects in their communities. Luo’s images, a combination of photographs and stylized illustrations, are a perfect match for the text and show how humans interact with their environments. While Scofield’s vocabulary may sometimes be a stretch for her intended audience (“Silence befell them as they began their ascent”), her protagonists have an easy, comfortable relationship, and they’re never so perfect that they’re not relatable. A glossary helps explain the book’s environmental terms, including “Ecological Footprint—the impact an individual has on its environment through daily living (eating, going places, making waste).”

A call to action for kids to make positive differences in their neighborhoods.

Pub Date: April 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943258-99-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Warren Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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