A concise but thorough environmental primer for young readers enhanced by colorful and attractive illustrations.


What On Earth Can We Do?

A children’s book renders a practical environmentalist message in simple language and pictures.

In this volume, Sper (Follow the Yarn: A Book of Colors, 2016, etc.) guides children through basic and actionable recommendations for reducing carbon footprints and minimizing waste. The picture book’s prescriptions are child-friendly in concept (“Repair toys instead of buying new ones”) and also remind young readers of their ability to influence adult behavior (“Kids are teaching their parents to take shorter showers, travel on public transportation or bike to work, set up a compost bin, and use energy-efficient light bulbs”). A spread on recycling gives readers an idea of what may happen to repurposed glass and plastic bottles, while subsequent pages provide guidance on adapting recycling plants to local waste management processes, using just 26 words to explain the difference between commingled and separated recycling systems. Touches of humor, like the menu for a “Worm Café” that accompanies a spread on composting, add to the kid appeal, as does the recurring image of the front page of Planet Earth News, a paper that celebrates young people’s conservation achievements. Sper’s basic but engaging illustrations should appeal to fans of Dick Bruna and Roger Priddy, with solid colors and silhouette-style shapes that produce simple but elegant high-contrast graphics. Most spreads consist of only a few sentences, but for the book’s final pages, Sper turns to “big words and ideas” to provide more detail on climate change, fossil fuels, and renewable energy. Although the text becomes denser in the last pages of the volume, the language remains easy for young readers to follow: “Most cars and computers run on energy from fossil fuels, but there are other sources of energy.” With its emphasis on shaping both individual and adult behavior, the book is likely to make reminders to separate recycling, carry reusable shopping bags, turn off lights, and avoid wasting water a regular part of children’s conversations with their parents.

A concise but thorough environmental primer for young readers enhanced by colorful and attractive illustrations.

Pub Date: July 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9754902-7-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Jump Press

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

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Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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Moving and poetic.

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A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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