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.)

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.