We Are Water Protectors (Carole Lindstrom)

Hello, friends! Our book today is We Are Water Protectors, written by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade, a conservational call to action and celebration of Indigenous pride.

A young girl of Ojibwe descent recounts a lesson her grandmother imparted to her: “Water is the first medicine.” She points out that we come from water, from the earliest days in our mothers’ wombs; once born, the planet we all share nurtures us with water in the same way. Her people talk of a black snake that will spoil the water and destroy the land, and in the form of high-volume oil pipelines, the black snake has arrived. So the girl and her people make a stand, fighting for their rights… and protecting the sacred safety of the water.

Beautiful. This deeply passionate and original tale, written and illustrated by Indigenous creators, is part historical account, part rallying cry, and part unabashed expression of cultural pride. Drawing inspiration from the Standing Rock protests and ongoing fight to prevent oil pipelines from being built on tribal nations’ lands and waterways, the text reads like flowing, free-form poetry, yet manages to incorporate themes like stewardship of nature, community, and heritage throughout. The dreamy, rich artwork is absolutely stunning, and JJ and I found ourselves marveling at every page. This length is great for any storytime, and the message within is a critical one for right now and always: we must rise to protect life and what sustains it from those who would destroy it – it is our responsibility to the planet, and to each other. A fantastic title, and we adored it. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired The Environmental Movement (Stephanie Roth Sisson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired The Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson, a look at the revolutionary scientist and author.

Every morning, Rachel awoke to a symphony of song. Birds, chipmunks, insects, and all manner of furry, finned, or winged creatures filled her world with calls, chirps, and caterwauls. Rachel loved to learn about them, reading books and exploring the environments near her home, making notes and observations on everything she saw. Heading off to school, she was sure she would be a writer… until she glimpsed the microscopic world hiding in a drop of water, and became fascinated with biology. After a career of success as a researcher and author, Rachel turned her attention to something big: the steady silencing of the naturesong she had cherished as a child. Uncovering one of the major contributors of this ecological shift, toxic pesticides, she published the book Silent Spring, a groundbreaking and controversial work that changed the minds of the country, and would go on to create an entirely new movement of environmentalism.

There are very few works like Carson’s Silent Spring, which led to a major sea change in public opinion on environmental conservation and protection; for instance it – along with Carson’s testimony before Congress – led directly to the formation of the EPA. And Sisson’s work here does a wonderful job of showing both the early influences on Carson’s love of nature, her research, and the impact of her masterwork, as well as why the environmentalism movement was such a necessity in its time. There are a few areas that feel skimmed over (Carson’s struggles with being a woman in mid-century STEM, the lack of public interest in conservation before her book, etc.), but there are also wonderfully rich details, such as the onomatopoeic birdsong and the bold flowchart that describes how chemicals can devastate an ecosystem (note: this does depict some deceased animals). Sisson’s illustrations convey the tone perfectly, and the length is good for even smaller bookworms. A lovely introduction to an often-overlooked figure, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

Touch The Earth (Julian Lennon)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Touch The Earth, written by Julian Lennon with Bart Davis and illustrated by Smiljana Coh, a look at global issues relating to water.

See this white feather? It’s more than it appears. Give the book a shake and the feather transforms into the White Feather Flier, a sentient airplane who helps children care for the Earth. By tilting the book and pressing illustrated “buttons”, readers can pilot around the world and learn about water-related environmental and humanitarian concerns. Further interactions help provide water to drought- or contamination-stricken areas, clean polluted oceans, and more. After, it’s time to fly home; the reader has helped to touch the earth in so many ways.

Mixed feelings. The interactive elements were wonderful – JJ loved “flying” the plane and pressing “buttons”, and it made for a very engaging experience. The inspiration for the White Feather Flyer, explained by Lennon in the backmatter, is touching. Otherwise, the book is uneven. While the intention of encouraging children to take interest and action in improving their world is good, the book provides no concrete ways in which kids can do so. The buttons make for an engaging reading experience, but they send an odd message for a book about global activism – there is no “magic button” to provide clean water, food, or oceans. These things take money, work, and effort, and I would have liked to see readers encouraged to engage in practical ways like these as well. The illustrations were very cute, but there was an uncomfortable choice in making the “savior” children primarily white while all the people they are “helping” are people of color. There’s also a message that we should be irrigating natural deserts to grow food for the poor, seeming to forget that deserts are their own rather important ecosystems. The length was fine, and JJ liked the interactive elements, but otherwise a bit of a mess. Not for us.

The Lumberjack’s Beard (Duncan Beedie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Lumberjack’s Beard by Duncan Beedie, a funny yet sweet story of friendship and conservation.

Jim Hickory the lumberjack lives a simple life, following a comfortable routine. Each morning he wakes, limbers up (limbering is important for lumbering, you see), then eats a tall stack of delicious pancakes. Then he heads out into the forest and chop-choppety-chops down all the trees he can. After a full day of chopping, he is surprised to find a bird at his door, angry that Jim had chopped down a tree that held his brand-new nest. A decent sort, Jim offers to let the bird nest in his fine, full beard – and that’s where the trouble starts. More animals are showing up at Jim’s door in need of a place to stay, and soon his beard is full of guests and his routine is in shambles. He evicts his tenants, shaving his beard and leaving the hair on the porch for them to continue living in. Yet now, looking at his clean-shaven face and the barren landscape around him, he begins to wonder how he can help them even more…

We really liked this one! It’s a fun, silly story without an ounce of meanness: the animals are righteous in their dismay, and Jim is generous and kind, doing what he can to help them. By the end, he and the animals have formed a close friendship that has allowed him to adjust his perspective, and he sees the importance of replacing the trees that he’s cut down. It’s a fresh way of presenting conflict, not as one party versus another, but instead two parties adjusting to accommodate the other. The illustrations are adorable, and Jim and his furry friends are sure to delight, especially for kids with bearded men in their lives. The length is great, and JJ loved it. This one will make you smile, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

It Starts With A Seed (Laura Knowles)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the absolutely lovely It Starts With A Seed, written by Laura Knowles and illustrated by Jennie Webber, the gorgeous and informative tale of a seed growing into a mighty tree.

A “helicopter” sycamore seed flutters down to the ground, and here our story begins. As the illustrations show the seed taking root, growing shoots then branches then leaves and bark, the rhyming text describes each stage of the new tree’s life cycle in poetic verse. At last, a mighty sycamore has grown, providing shelter to a plethora of woodland animals. Finally, as the tree grows and disperses seeds of its own, the story of a seed begins again.

What a positively charming book! While the seed-to-tree story has certainly been done before, the combined effort put into this quietly majestic version makes it a standout. The text flows beautifully, giving the plot a weighty yet soothing feel, like a cozy blanket. The pen-and-ink illustrations are finely detailed in a realistic style reminiscent of nature guidebooks, and bring the tree, its features and its inhabitants to fascinating life. Even the quality of the paper and binding fit the tone of the book, which will leave little readers appreciating the full life lived by every tree. The length was perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. Absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!

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