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The books in this section all have a theme of conservation, raising environmental awareness and/or championing green issues.
Michael Foreman’s dazzling watercolours bring the beauty of the natural world into readers’ hands in this outstanding picture book, reminding us all how precious our planet is, and how we need to care for it. A little girl watches the sun rise and then the moon as it follows, and thinks of all the creatures under the sky. With her brother, she explores the seashore and together they create a mini-world in a rockpool. This shows them just how fragile nature is, and the threat it faces from pollution. Together brother and sister clean the pool and determine to ask other children to help. First published thirty years ago, One World is recognised as a classic, and its message is even more important today. A beautiful, inspiring and timely book.
Most people like good, but Sofia likes better. When her Abuelo (Grandad) hurts himself on a mountain of rubbish outside their local landfill site, she determines to take action and turn ‘Mount Trashmore’ into a park. It’s not easy, and she needs all her courage to enter City Hall and put her ideas to the grown-ups in charge. With the help of friends and neighbours, Sofia proves that everyone has the power to change their world. It’s another uplifting and positive story in the thoroughly excellent The Questioneers series, and go-getter Sofia is a wonderful role-model for us all. Credit to David Roberts for his typically stylish and action-packed illustrations too.
Animals, trees, flowers, our city forbids them all... Juniper Greene lives in a walled city from which nature has been banished, following the outbreak of a deadly man-made disease many years earlier. While most people seem content to live in such a cage, she and her little brother Bear have always known about their resistance to the disease, and dream of escaping into the wild. To the one place humans have survived outside of cities. To where their mother is. When scientists discover that the siblings provide the key to fighting the disease, the pair must flee for their lives. As they journey into the unknown, they soon learn that there's cruelty in nature as well as beauty. Will they ever find the home they're searching for? A thrilling and thought-provoking ecological adventure from a fresh new voice in children's fiction. Perfect for fans of The Explorer, The Last Wild and The Island at the End of Everything.
From the author of the phenomenally successful The King Who Banned the Dark comes a new tale about community and our relationship with the environment and nature. Once upon a time a group of friends were seeking a place to call home. The desert was too hot, the valley was too wet and the mountain was too windy. Then they found the forest. It was perfect. The leaves gave shelter from the sun and rain, and a gentle breeze wound through the branches. But the friends soon wanted to build shelters. The shelters became houses, then the houses got bigger. All too soon they wanted to control the environment and built a huge wooden wall around the community. As they cut down the trees, the forest becomes thinner, until there is just one last tree standing. It is down to the children to find a solution.
Set in a flooded future world, Tom Huddleston’s book is a thrilling adventure, in which two young people are caught up in a world of pirates, gangsters, power struggles and corruption. Kara and Joe live in a floating slum on the edge of what is left of London after rising seas have drowned our civilisation. They’ve always been told that the Mariners, gangs who live entirely at sea, are terrorists. But then Joe’s life is saved by a Mariner, who entrusts him with a secret map. It’s a story that poses questions about our future, individual responsibility and the morals of political activism. Timely, thought-provoking, and action-packed.
Naomi Howarth’s beautifully expressive pictures have seen her twice nominated for the Kate Greenaway medal and shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize and she is renowned for bringing the wonders of the natural world to life for young readers. In this picture book, which would be a perfect resource for Cold Places topics, we first meet Magnus the Ringed Seal woken from his slumbers by a loud rumbling noise. What could it be? Neither he nor any of his friends- the Arctic Hare, the Snowy Owl, the Arctic Fox and the Polar Bear can identify the source of the noise. It’s not the wind nor the ice breaking or trees creaking. But when they reach the sea, wise Walrus has an idea. Magnus is told to dive for juicy pink shrimps, and he brings back a feast for them all to share. Suddenly they realise the noise has stopped and it was Magnus’s hungry stomach all along. In a delightful denouement, when they all try to sleep, another loud noise wakes them and this time it is Magnus’s snores! The animals are realistically depicted in their glorious Arctic settings but are simultaneously real characters that children can engage with. The end papers have key facts about all the animals featured. This is an enjoyable repetitive tale and a lovely introduction to the animals of a threatened habitat.
Poems to help you change the world | Highlighted as a recommended read for National Poetry Day (3rd October), three of our best poets for children come together in this excellent new anthology with a challenge for their young audience: go out and help change the world. Alongside poems on the many threats to the environment and the natural world are poems that pose ‘tricky questions’ about how we choose to live. There are poems to make children laugh, to inspire them and inform them; above all here are poems that will provoke a reaction. It might be something practical, like deciding to change the contents of your lunchbox, or it might mean making a change to the way you understand the world. It ends with Liz Brownlee’s quiet but powerful poem ‘Snow’, a beautiful example of how the smallest things can effect change.
Ash’s story is “probably the same as anyone else’s, more or less, just perhaps with more gas masks and a goat.” The goat is a Tennessee Fainting Goat named Socrates who lives with the isolated Canary community deep in the Arizona desert. The gas masks Ash mentions are needed by the Canaries on account of them suffering from debilitating environmental illnesses that doctors deny the existence of. And so begins a thoroughly thought-provoking novel that tackles huge health and environmental issues. Ash journeyed to the community in search of his missing stepbrother, Bly. The folk here cannot live in towns or cities due to all the chemicals and smells and electrical fields that trigger incapacitating Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. When Ash gets sick himself he discovers firsthand how it feels to have your symptoms rebuffed by medics who decide, “This is all in your head”, and pretty much declare, “I can’t cure you so you must be mad.” His frustration and pain is tangible. Indeed, Ash’s narrative is brilliantly compelling throughout. He’s a born storyteller whose voice chimes with authentic cadences and detours. Ash and Bly’s poignant family story is intertwined with much food for thought about a diverse spread of subjects - genetics, bacteria, antibiotics and human shortsightedness and greed. As former scientist Finch comments, “We are filling the world full of chemicals that we have precisely no idea about, and one not-so-fine day the chickens will come home to roost. With the canaries.” Ash comes to some sharp realisations too. Under the warm, wise tutelage of Mona, he furiously states that, “one day, doctors are gonna finally realize that there ain’t no god-dang difference between the body and the mind anyhow”. This remarkable novel is underpinned by its acute portrait of fractured folk forging an existence in a fractured world that seems on the brink of end times. But “maybe there’s time for one final chance,” Ash wonders, which will leave readers with a glint of hope and plenty to ponder.
July 2019 Book of the Month | Characteristically, Gill Lewis skilfully conjures a vivid sense of landscape and wildlife in a story starring a character driven by her love of wild things and determination to achieve justice for them. Bobbie lives on a sheep farm in the Scottish Highlands with her parents and strong-willed, somewhat eccentric grandma. In a shocking opening chapter, Granny’s little dog dies suddenly and horribly, poisoned by bait intended to kill a magnificent young golden eagle. Bobbie and her granny know that the local landlord’s gamekeeper is responsible, and that he’s a threat to all birds of prey in the area. Can they prove it, and protect the eagle? Readers will be gripped by the story and quickly come to understand Bobbie’s love for the eagle and her passion to stand up for it and all wild birds. It’s a terrific story, told with real impact, one for all animal lovers. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Interest Age 5-8 | Pirates ahoy! This is a lively, swashbuckling story with great characters and a pacey story – all vibrantly illustrated in an attractive and easy-to-read, small size book. Barbarous Bertha is a fearsome pirate as well as the guardian of a wide stretch of emerald green sea and the Purple Shell Islands which are home to both people and special animals and birds. It is no surprise therefore that her daughter Molly Rogers is never going to stand for anyone who threatens to invade the islands or destroy their inhabitants. When reports come of Captain Firebird doing damage to Monkey Skull Island, Molly Rogers enlists all of her best animal and bird friends – including Kracken the octopus – to chase down Captain Firebird and to make sure he never does anything so dastardly again.
July 2019 Debut of the Month | A trip to the natural history museum with Grandad fills George with a passion for bugs. He determines to build up a collection and though it’s not easy at first slowly learns the best ways to catch them, filling jars with butterflies, beetles, worms, moths and spiders. It’s satisfying, but something’s not right. Grandad notices it too: with no bugs, everywhere is too quiet, dull and sad. Together they release the bugs and transform their garden into an insect sanctuary. The story is filled with action and movement and the pages are packed with detail. I love the way George chases after his bugs with such a loping stride and the relationship between him and his grandfather is tender and convincing.
July 2019 Debut of the Month | There’s a classic painterly feel to this picture book but its message is very contemporary. Clem loves exploring along the seashore and collecting treasures in her bucket. These include shells and pebbles and pieces of glass, as well as brightly coloured plastic lids, bottles and netting. She befriends a little crab, caught up in a bit of netting and it hitches a ride home with her. Clem knows the crab belongs on the beach, but will he be safe there? Then a trip to the aquarium inspires her class to protect the ocean and together they clean up Clem and Crab’s beach. It’s a lovely story, and an important one, told so effectively in Fiona Lumber’s carefully chosen words and beautiful illustrations.
Winner of the Batsford prize for children’s book illustration | A beautifully illustrated love letter to the natural world. The story carries a subtle warning about our increasing obsession with digital gadgets and resulting disconnect from the world around us, with a gentle, encouraging message for readers to take care of their environment.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | The twelve poems in this book, one for each month, will inspire a year of nature watching and who knows, quite likely some poetry writing too. There’s drama and excitement in the opening poem which describes a legendary fight between warring starlings – ‘the Rorschach of the winter months’ - over Cork in the 1600s; other poems are quieter and February’s gives a beautiful close up view of frog spawn, opening up memories from Coelho’s own childhood. Many of the poems in fact reflect his own personal experiences and responses to nature, April showers, trips to the beach, walks through winter leaves, giving the poems a particular intensity and emotional impact. Kelly Louise Judd’s folk-are inspired illustrations make this as beautiful to look at as it is to read aloud. A superb collection and a lovely book to give.
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