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What On Earth Can We Do?

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

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

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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ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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THE HOUSE THAT LOU BUILT

This delightful debut welcomes readers in like a house filled with love.

A 13-year-old biracial girl longs to build the house of her dreams.

For Lou Bulosan-Nelson, normal is her “gigantic extended family squished into Lola’s for every holiday imaginable.” She shares a bedroom with her Filipina mother, Minda—a former interior-design major and current nurse-to-be—in Lola Celina’s San Francisco home. From her deceased white father, Michael, Lou inherited “not-so-Filipino features,” his love for architecture, and some land. Lou’s quietude implies her keen eye for details, but her passion for creating with her hands resonates loudly. Pining for something to claim as her own, she plans to construct a house from the ground up. When her mom considers moving out of state for a potential job and Lou’s land is at risk of being auctioned off, Lou stays resilient, gathering support from both friends and family to make her dream a reality. Respicio authentically depicts the richness of Philippine culture, incorporating Filipino language, insights into Lou’s family history, and well-crafted descriptions of customs, such as the birdlike Tinikling dance and eating kamayan style (with one’s hands), throughout. Lou’s story gives voice to Filipino youth, addressing cultural differences, the importance of bayanihan (community), and the true meaning of home.

This delightful debut welcomes readers in like a house filled with love. (Fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1794-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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