Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside The World’s Biggest Solar Plant (Allan Drummond)

Hello friends, and Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, our book today is Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside The World’s Biggest Solar Plant by Allan Drummond.

Each morning, friends Nadia and Jasmine walk to school together under the hot African sun. They live in Ghassate, Morocco, on the very edge of the Saharan desert; Jasmine (the narrator), describes it as beginning just outside their classroom window. Their village is humble and agrarian, but in the last few years, some very big and exciting changes have taken place. Just outside their town, workers have built the largest solar power plant in the entire world, the size of 3,500 soccer fields and containing 660,000 mirrors! While studying sustainability, Jasmine’s class heads to the plant for a field trip, where they learn all about how it operates. Later, Jasmine and Nadia reflect on the near- and far-reaching effects of the plant, and how it is giving the people of their community and their country a hope of a brighter future.

Incredibly informative. If you didn’t know that the world’s largest power plant was just outside a rural community of 1,200 homes, neither did I. And through Jasmine’s narration, lessons from her teachers, and footnotes plus an author’s note by Drummond, readers can learn a great deal about the Noor plant. There’s also a strong focus on the training and jobs provided by the plant, and well as the community outreach of the company that owns it (MASEN, though not identified by name within the story). This section, near the end, begins to get a little repetitive, yet does introduce kids to the many ways that investing in alternate energy can help communities to grow. Drummond’s floaty illustrations are lovely to look at yet manage to convey a great sense of scale, and the text flows extremely well through the various forms of delivery. The choice to put to author’s note before the last page of the story was a little confusing, and the length is definitely better for older, elementary-aged bookworms (JJ started to get a little squirmy near the end), but this was a wonderful learning experience for those curious about solar power. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Earth!: My First 4.54 Billion Years (Stacy McAnulty)

Hello friends, and Happy Earth Day! To help celebrate our lovely blue planet, we’re reading Earth!: My First 4.54 Billion Years, written by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by David Litchfield, a unique narrative of Earth’s natural history as told by the planet itself.

“Hi, I’m Earth!” begins our narrator, who most will immediately recognize as our very own home planet – though she prefers to be called “Planet Awesome”. Earth takes the reader on a tour of her history and geology, the solar system, and even a crash course on some of the most significant events in her life: dinosaurs, Pangaea, and her newest friends, Homo sapiens (that’s us!). She encourages us to be kind to her – she’s one-of-a-kind after all – and enjoy our stay! She is pretty awesome, after all.

This was such a clever concept, and we really enjoyed it! It was fun to read and learn about the Earth from the perspective of the planet herself, especially with healthy doses of tongue-in-cheek humor and a wealth of educational info covered. The art is great, and really give a personality to every character, be they person, animal, or astronomical body. However, there are a few illustrations that young readers could potentially find distressing: two sad-looking whales caught in a sailor’s net, an asteroid with a threatening grin hurtling toward a field of frightened animals. It’s a small thing, but could upset littler ones, so it’s worth noting. Otherwise, the length was great, the educational aspects are phenomenal, and JJ and I both enjoyed it overall. And awesome way to get kids interested in our planet, and Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth (Oliver Jeffers)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers, a charmingly sweet welcome guide to our planet for the newest arrivals.

Welcome, new person! Here we are; this is Earth, a big globe spinning in a massively bigger universe, and carrying all of human and plant and animal life as we know it. There are pointy, cold mountains, and hot, flat grasslands, and deep, mysterious oceans (though we can talk more about the latter once you’ve learned to swim). There are all kinds of people here, all different shapes and sizes and colors, but all of them people just like you. There are stars and constellations and planets and solar systems in the skies, and car and cities and animals here on earth, and inside your brain? Oh, there’s the potential for even more than all of that combined! It can be a little overwhelming, but we’ll take it step by step as you grow. And if you have any questions, you can always ask me, or other family, or anyone really. We are here, after all – you’re never alone on Planet Earth.

Phenomenal. Jeffers created Here We Are as a gift for his first child, and it shows in the care, humor, and affection that sing from each page. The art is positively lovely: gorgeous, sweeping land-, sea-, and starscapes blended with Jeffers signature quirky details and characters. A spread featuring dozens of animals makes for delightful identification practice; another featuring a tongue-in-cheeky look at the solar system informs and amuses. The text is clever, sweet, and full of wonder at the world around. The length is great, and JJ absolutely loved it. The rare story that little ones can enjoy more and more and they grow, and that encourages us to be curious and kind. Baby Bookworm approved!