Three young children explore the “gifts” from nature used to make items from glass and salt to cotton and cheese.
Each double-page spread shows the three children—all light-skinned though with vastly different hairstyles: a black topknot on the only one whose gender is not ambiguous, dark-brown pageboy, and dark-brown, curly Afro—enjoying the out-of-doors, and an accompanying verse introduces one of Earth’s habitats: “What fills the vast blue ocean? Dancing splashes of water! / The ocean is a pool where the fish swim, / and a playground where the birds play.” Right-hand pages open in full gatefolds to show the process associated with each “gift”; in this case, how salt is made. Vignettes show actual equipment, with the children doing the work (with two exceptions). Na emphasizes throughout the ideas of gifts and thankfulness for them, whether they are cultivated by human hands or not: “Soybeans give us tofu. / Savory, tasty tofu. / Tofu is a gift from soybeans that we are thankful for.” But the language is rather stilted and didactic. Plus, Na at times oversimplifies: “Wet soil is flattened to make clay.” Jung’s watercolor illustrations are a delight of tiny details and wonderful, childlike expressions and actions—one child’s face is smooshed against a pane of glass.
It’s rare to recommend television over a book, but in this case, stick with How It’s Made. For gratitude for nature choose Thank You, Bees (2017) by Toni Yuly. (Informational picture book. 4-8)