Forest-dweller Crinkleroot reappears to lead 21st-century readers outdoors, urging them to appreciate and give back to nature.
Arnosky’s bearded guide, inspired by 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, was last seen in print in Crinkleroot’s Visit to Crinkle Cove (1999), but he has continued to educate schoolchildren through the PBS series Backyard Safari for many years. In this new title, the author focuses on things children can do on their own for their environment: provide food and appropriate habitat for wild creatures; pick up after themselves; keep stream waters clean; put animals back where they found them; don’t walk on dune grass. He gives detailed instructions for planting trees and for releasing fish unharmed. Dressed in a frontiersman’s costume and feathered hat and surrounded by forest creatures, Crinkleroot makes an appealing guide. (He discards his jacket for a life vest in his kayak.) His love for the natural world is evident, and he expects that readers will share it. Pen-and-ink illustrations, colored with ink acrylic washes, are full of accurate detail. Early on readers are offered a winter-bird-identification puzzle that capitalizes on this. Throughout, he shows and identifies creatures a sharp-eyed young naturalist might see outdoors (especially, but not solely, those who live in the eastern half of the country).
Renewed public interest in a “green” world makes this a timely and welcome return for Crinkleroot. (Informational picture book. 5-10)