Please welcome my guest author today, Sandra Neil Wallace, with her list on picture books featuring people who protect the planet. It’s a timely and much needed story. It’s not hard to find scientists concerned about climate change and global warming:
- 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’ from the Guardian
- Warning: Climate change will bring major new health risks for kids from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
- Bill Nye Brings Out the F-Bombs and a Blowtorch to Talk Climate Change in a viral video
- Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming via NASA
But there is good news as well. We CAN make a difference:
- Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find from Yale
- People can do more than use less plastic to help save the Great Barrier Reef from Science Daily
- Ten animals we have saved from extinction from Natural History Museum
- 9 things to know about teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg from USA Today
Activists have led the way in making a difference. Today, Sandra Neil Wallace highlights the accomplishments of Marjory Stoneman Douglas who worked to save the Everglades by turning a portion of it into a national park for the benefit to protect flora, fauna, and species that resided there.
Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
We are giving away a copy of Marjory Saves the Everglades. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
Protecting the planet is personal to author Sandra Neil Wallace:
“As humans, we share the earth with many living things. Yet often, we act like we own the planet. And that hurts every living thing—including us. From the land we live on, to the water and the air all life needs, these picture books show us how everyday people around the world have taken action to protect the planet. Along the way, they give us inspiration—at any age–to do the same.
Whether they focus on forests and gardens, animals or pollution and water, in gathering my favorite picture books on planet protectors, I discovered a few recurring themes: that the key to respecting and protecting the planet begins right where we live, while at the same time, our local, daily actions impact the entire planet. We are all connected—just like the ecosystems that support us. And it begins with water and trees:
10 Picture Books on People Protecting the Planet
Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prevot, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
“Trees are living symbols of peace and hope.”
This excellent picture book biography on Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenyan environmentalist and activist Wangari Maathai, deftly explains the political issues and gender discrimination Wangari faces throughout her life, while also emphasizing the vital, cultural connections she has to her environment. All this forms who Wangari is as an adult and motivates her to become the founder of the Green Belt movement. In introducing this vital movement to young readers, author Franck Prevot makes sure readers realize that the movement is a holistic one—dedicated to forestation as well as protecting the planet and supporting girls’ and women’s rights. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh, illustrated by Marianne Ferrer
“Every girl born in the village will be welcomed with the planting of 111 trees.”
Based on the true story of Sundar Paliwal, who grew up in an Indian village where gender equality didn’t exist and where the region’s vegetation was devastated by mining, young Sundar chooses to create change. Despite personal heartbreak, including the loss of his mother, Sundar grows up hugging trees whenever he misses his mom and decides to plant trees to honor the birth of every girl born in the village. At first, he faces resistance, but soon the mindset of the community changes, Sundar’s goal of planting 111 is surpassed and the region becomes fertile—both for trees and possibilities for girls to have equal opportunities. This is a beautiful story of eco-feminism, and of communities breaking barriers and coming together to love and support each other while respecting and nourishing the land. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 5 and up]
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng by Sophia Gholz, illustrated by Kayla Harren
“Only by growing plants, the Earth will survive.”
This is such a powerful story of how one young boy—Jadav Payeng—experienced his home near Majuli Island along India’s Brahmaputra River being devastated by erosion and deforestation. Jadav decided to do something about it by literally building a forest, one tree at a time. After more than 30 years, trekking seedlings one by one, Jadav succeeded in creating a forest on the island spanning 1300 acres and bringing back from the brink much of the wildlife that once lived there. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 5 and up]
Me … Jane by Patrick McDonnell
“Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. She cherished Jubilee and
took him everywhere she went.”
What I really like about this picture book is how accessible it is for very young readers. Well-known author and illustrator Patrick McDonnell brings Jane Goodall’s conservationism and respect for chimpanzees to a young audience by focusing on its beginnings: her love of her chimpanzee toy as a young girl, how that wonder and curiosity led Jane to become one of the most impactful and renowned animal activists and humanitarians in the world. McDonnell’s illustration style—which won the Caldecott honor–infuse the pages with the love and reverence Goodall has for chimpanzees. A personal message in the book from Jane herself encourages kids to make the world a better place for people, animals, and the planet. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
Wildlife on Paper: Animals at Risk Around the Globe by Kunal Kundu
“If we don’t take care of our planet’s species diversity … our future generations will experience them on paper only.”
I chose Wildlife on Paper and Kunal Kundu as a planet protector because of what this self-taught artist is doing to bring awareness around the world about endangered species. Growing up near Kolkata, India, Kunal watched water buffalo swimming in ponds, the glowing eyes of jackals, and spotted mongooses and lizards every day. Due to urbanization, he explains how the animals he grew up with are nowhere to be found in the region today. That’s why Kunal crafts the likenesses of endangered animals from paper bags. The stunning result and implications are clear: if we don’t act now, animals—from polar bears to elephants–will only be seen by future kids in museums or on paper. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson
“Spring after spring, year after year, a young girl watched and listened.”
This picture book biography brings the story of ground-breaking scientist, nature writer, and environmental activist Rachel Carson, to very young readers. Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring, changed the attitudes of many people around the world about chemical pollution and created chaos and re-examination among scientists themselves. In this biography, by focusing on just the right amount of information, including Carson’s early childhood love of the rhythm of the natural world and also her fear of watching it grow quieter, author/illustrator Stephanie Roth Sisson provides a solid starting point that inspires, engages, and informs young readers about the cycles of life and our part in protecting them. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
Our House Is on Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet by Jeanette Winter
“I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. … I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
Like Rachel Carson, when Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg learned about the impact of climate change in school, she became really scared about the future of the planet and her generation. A neuro-diverse kid who was once shy and rarely spoke, Greta focuses on the destruction of climate change. Author/illustrator Jeanette Winter doesn’t shy away from these truths, as Greta watches videos on raging wildfires, bleached barrier reefs, and destructive floods and realizes she has to do something about it, especially while adults didn’t. So, Greta went on strike from school every Friday to get grownups and kids to do something. Soon, thousands of kids and adults joined her, and Greta became the youngest person to lead the world in a conversation on climate change. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 3 and up]
We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade
“Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all.”
This lyrical story, told by Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians member Carole Lindstrom, and illustrated by Michaela Goade, from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi Clan, provides a powerful glimpse at Native knowledge passed down from generation to generation that imbibes today’s Indigenous-led movements to protect land and water. Building on the wisdom and respect Native elders have always had for Mother Earth, this story—about a young girl who is told by her grandmother about the preciousness of water and how to protect it–also serves as a call to action. The back matter in the book invites young readers to take the pledge to be stewards of the earth and to be water protectors. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
“Be a nuisance where it counts … Never give up.”
Water–and how it connects every living thing (“it’s all the same water” Marjory said)–is at the center of Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s adult life. But as an author and investigative journalist who writes true stories about people who change the world, I first wanted to write about Marjory because I longed to know how she created change because she was a journalist. I found out so much more, especially how she advanced ecology. And I couldn’t believe that Marjory is virtually unknown outside of Florida. Decades before Rachel Carson sounded the alarm about chemical pollution, Marjory wrote a book that made ecological connections that were not known to the public. When Marjory became a journalist, women didn’t even have the right to vote. And when she returned home to Florida after World War I, where she’d volunteered as a Red Cross worker, she was shocked to find the Everglades being bulldozed over for development. Marjory researched the ecology of the area (it’s the only ecosystem of its kind in the world) and used her words for good by writing the game-changing, environmentally awakening book The Everglades: River of Grass. She also helped make much of the existing Everglades a national park, not for people, but for wildlife. When the building of a supersonic jetport in 1969 was set to destroy its mighty mangroves and threaten its rare birds, Marjory formed Friends of the Everglades, convincing the President to stop construction. Her organization is still thriving today, and kids can become members as Young Friends of the Everglades. Marjory’s incredible story shows how one person can make a difference and the ways more people can, too. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 4 and up]
Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood by Tony Hillery, illustrated by Jessie Hartland
“Four hundred seedlings went into the ground, one for each kid.”
I chose Harlem Grown and Tony Hillery as a planet protector because sustainability is a huge part of protecting the earth and because neglected, bulldozed spaces, devoid of vegetation and polluted by trash, hurt the planet and its inhabitants. (It’s also one of my favorite picture books of the year.) Thanks to Tony Hillery and the kids at the Harlem elementary school where he volunteered, neglected lots near the school- which kids nicknamed “the haunted gardens”–became vegetable and flower gardens that not only provide access to fresh foods for families of the gardeners, but also to thriving urban farms and farmers markets as well as an ecosystem for bees, butterflies, and insects that keep the planet running. [nonfiction picture book biography, ages 6 and up]
Marjory Saves the Everglades GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away a copy of Marjory Saves the Everglades. Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses.
Since breaking a gender barrier in sports as the first woman to anchor an NHL broadcast on national TV, Sandra Neil Wallace has been writing stories about people who break barriers and change the world. She is the author of the Orbis Pictus Award-winning book Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, illustrated by Bryan Collier, which also earned 4 starred reviews and 8 state award nominations. Her young adult nonfiction title, Blood Brother, won The International Literacy Association’s Social Justice Award and was a YALSA Award Nominee for Excellence in Nonfiction. The daughter of a Yugoslavian refugee, Sandra lives in New Hampshire where she continues to break barriers and create change as co-founder of DailyGoodNH.org .You can visit her website at www.sandraneilwallace.com
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