Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kid Konnection: Go Green with Picture Books

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Since Earth Day is this month, I've decided to share with you some great book ideas that celebrate the importance of being green. It's never to early to start teaching youngsters about these valuable lessons.

Summary: Celebrated author/illustrator Marc Brown revisits his beloved bestselling character in the first new Arthur picture book in almost ten years!

Arthur comes home from school and begins sneaking around the house, taking notes and talking about a Big Green Machine. D.W. is suspicious of her brother's weird behavior, but when Arthur shows up late for dinner with green hands, she
really gets the creeps! But it turns house Arthur is making a poster listing all the ways to save energy at home--and go green!

Just in time for Earth Day, this heartwarming story will be printed on recycled paper with soy based ink. -- Little, Brown

I just love Arthur -- the books and the television show -- so I was very excited to discover that there is a new Arthur book available called ARTHUR TURNS GREEN by Marc Brown. This is the first new Arthur adventure in nearly a decade, and it couldn't come at a better time and with a better message.

This book is just delightful and I'm pretty sure kids will agree. Arthur's teacher comes up with a class project called the "Big Green Machine," where Arthur and his friends are challenged to come up with ways to make our planet a better place to live. I appreciated that this book presented lots of creative ways (and some were actually very easy) to make the earth more green.

Of course, I loved that Arthur's kid sister D.W. has a role in this story too because I always think she's a hoot. When Arthur literally starts turning green, D.W. is pretty sure that the "Big Green Machine" is causing this change. All is revealed at the end of the story when Arthur and his classmates present the various ways they can make a difference!

As much as I enjoyed this story, Booking Son seemed to like it even more. It's educational and funny, and that's definitely a winning combination in our house!

Summary: In his characteristic heartwarming style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of "a life living with and helping all animals," until one day she finds that her dream has come true.

One of the world's most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to make a difference for all living things.

With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall's autobiography, McDonnell makes this very true story accessible for the very young--and young at heart. -- Little, Brown

It's rare for us to read a non-fiction picture book, but we recently discovered a terrific one -- ME...JANE by Patrick McDonnell. I should probably state up front that I do love chimps and I've read a few books about Jane Goodall in my lifetime. Needless to say, this book was especially appealing to me!

ME...JANE gives readers an inside glimpse into Jane Goodall's early years. The book shows how she developed her love for animals as well as her appreciation for the wonders of nature. I appreciated that much of the story was actually pulled directly from Ms. Goodall's autobiography! I also  loved how the book ended -- with a gorgeous photograph of a grown up Jane and a baby chimpanzee (one of my favorite photos of Ms. Goodall.) In addition, the end of the book includes a more detailed biography of Jane Goodall along with a letter from Jane herself.

ME...JANE is just a beautiful story from the gorgeous watercolor illustrations to the prose to the actual story itself. I just loved it! I can certainly see the benefit of the book because it is so educational, and I think teachers should definitely incorporate ME...JANE into their classrooms, especially around Earth Day. I think kids will agree that this book is a fun way to learn about Ms. Goodall!

Highly recommended!

Summary: Cheer up, Kermit—now it’s easy being green! Toddlers discover environmentally friendly ways to get around in this adorable lift-the-flap board book with playful rhymes and illustrations by author-illustrator Jan Gerardi. People go green as they zoom and glide or share a ride through seven on-the-go spreads before stopping to plant trees to help the earth. -- Random House

Summary: HOW DOES YOUR garden grow? With apple cores and carrot tops and wiggly worms all in a row! A young child builds a compost in this back-to-the-earth lift-the-flap board book. Toddlers will love these seven spreads of playful rhymes and illustrations that show how much fun working with dirt can be.-- Random House
ECO PEOPLE ON THE GO! and THE LITTLE COMPOSTER by Jan Gerardi  are Teenie Greenies board books, and I think they are just precious! The illustrations are adorable and I think toddlers will respond well to the images. Plus, the books are the ideal size for toddlers to grasp in their little hands.

There are just a few words per page, but I still think the books are an effective way to introduce some green concepts to little ones. In ECO PEOPLE ON THE GO!, the message is that there are lots of ways to green ways to "move" like walking, riding a bus, or sharing a ride. In addition, the characters stop "moving" to plant some trees at the end.

THE LITTLE COMPOSTER introduces all of the things that can be composted like fruits, peanut shells, leaves, grass, etc. Then it briefly explains how composting works -- there are even pictures of worms "doing their thing." The book ends with the characters planting some seeds and tending their garden and watching the plants grow.

I thought these books were fantastic! Both books have flaps that toddlers will love to lift -- I know my kids adored any book with which they could interact. Plus, there is rhyming text which makes the story more fun for little ones. Booking Son definitely thought these books were for babies (and they are geared for 0 to 4 year olds), but I convinced him that they were "kind of" early reader books. So Booking Son read the books to me and then we ended up discussing the messages in them.

Both ECO PEOPLE ON THE GO! and THE LITTLE COMPOSTER are great board books that introduce some important messages for the littlest readers.

Summary: One 11 year-old girl can make a difference-as budding ornithologist and artist Olivia Bouler has proven, single-handedly raising over $175,000 for the Gulf oil spill recovery. Devastated by the disaster and eager to do her part, Olivia wrote a letter to Audubon, “11 years old and willing to help” offering her own bird paintings to raise contributions for Gulf recovery efforts. The idea took flight, and Olivia proceeded to send out over 500 paintings, many of which are captured in this lavish picture book that recaps her valiant campaign to save birds affected by the spill.

Written in her own words, this unique introduction to backyard and endangered birds features Olivia's hand-drawn illustrations, bird facts, and full-color photos celebrating Olivia's campaign.
Olivia's Birds supports Audubon's conservation mission, including Gulf Coast cleanup efforts and is printed on FSC eco-friendly paper. -- Sterling

OLIVIA'S BIRDS: SAVING THE GULF by Olivia Bouler is a great book that definitely made an impression on Booking Son. The book was written and illustrated by an 11 year old girl, so he was quite impressed with her talent. But he also loved learning about how Olivia has managed to make a huge difference in the effort to save the gulf.

Quite frankly, I was also very impressed with OLIVIA'S BIRDS. I can't believe how much money Olivia has managed to raise in her efforts to save the birds by selling her paintings. And I'm even more in awe that she has taken on this cause at such a young age. She truly is a hero and I love that this book introduces her admirable qualities to children.

Booking Son was extremely interested in Olivia's sketches of the different birds. There are tons of colorful illustrations in this book, and he actually paused and looked closely at each one. Sometimes, he even turned back to a prior page while we were reading it. Rarely does he look that closely at the pictures in a book and I think that's a big testament to the power of Olivia's paintings!

OLIVIA'S BIRDS is also an extremely education book. Olivia gives lots of information on the different types of birds as well as the disaster that happened in the gulf. She also gives some ideas for what individuals can do to make a difference like build a bird feeder, recycle EVERY DAY, cut down on paper consumption, and compost. Booking Son and I discussed some of the things he could start doing to make more of a difference and help to make the Earth a better place.

OLIVIA'S BIRDS is a wonderful way to introduce the ideas of conservation to early elementary age children. It's also a worthwhile book to purchase because Olivia is donating a portion of the proceeds of the book to her charity!

Thanks to the publishers for sending a copies of these books. All of these books were printed on recycled paper with soy ink!

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!  


Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I think it's so important to read books about our ecological responsibility to our children. My kids like Arthur and I could see that they would like that book. The Jane Goodall book caught my eye too because I love what Jane Goodall has done! Thanks for sharing these great books with us.

bermudaonion said...

I love that there are books out there for little ones to emphasize going green. It's important to show them what you believe in through books as well as your actions.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I am highlighting a poetry book for kids this week, Love to Langston, which is a book of poems by Langston Hughes.

Peaceful Reader said...

This is a great resource list-thanks for sharing. My children-even the 19-year-old-would love the new Arthur book! I catch the two teenagers watching the PBS show with their 8-yr-old sister. I will make note of the others as they all sound library-worthy.

Melissa Taylor said...

I've been looking forward to Me, Jane - glad to hear it's good!