Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.
Here are a few gems to read by flashlight….
In the Tree House, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, is a perfect story for Earth Hour. A little boy dreams of having a tree house. So does his brother. They draw up plans and show them to their dad, whose own childhood dreams are ignited. Together, they construct their treehouse, but the following summer the little boy's brother is older, off with his friends. The protagonist finds himself alone in the summer heat, listening to the neighbourhood air conditioners, unable to see the night sky because of all the city lights. Then boom, there’s a blackout. “The melting ice crackles in the bowl. Something sparkles overhead. The night sky is filled with stars, more than I can count.” His brother returns to the treehouse where they play card games and read comics long after the city lights come back on.
Picture the Sky, by Barbara Reid, will inspire a focus for Earth Hour—to go outside and look at the sky. One page depicts three kids and their grandma in lawn chairs on a screened-in porch, eating popcorn, watching a lightning storm. “Wherever we are, we share the same sky,” Reid writes. The sky “can slip into the background” in a downtown city, but “you may find a story in the sky.” On another page, a child holds up her rendition of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” made, of course, with plasticine. Perhaps an activity for kids during Earth Hour.
In Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint, by Fermida Handy and Carole Carpenter, illustrated by Adrianna Steele-Card, Sandy worries about her favourite place—the beach. The amount of litter there is overwhelming. Then she meets The Garbage Lady, picking up beach trash; she teaches Sandy: “The footprint of your life is the mark you leave on the world…all kinds of little choices can make your footprint smaller.” This picture book is a discussion-launcher for how to control your own footprint. A list at the back includes turning off lights when we leave the room.
The Elders Are Watching is a plea from our native ancestors to take care of our earth, by David Bouchard, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers. In the context of Earth Hour, the stand-out verses include: "And there are those whose actions show/They see the way things could be,” and “If the beauty around us is to live through this day/We’d better start watching—and care/They told me to tell you the time is now.”
In What Matters, by Alison Hughes, illustrated by Holly Hatam, a boy picks up a piece of litter and puts it in the recycle bin. The story goes on to track all the small creatures, plants and water sources that are affected by his one modest act. Turning off the lights for one hour can make a difference, in the context of this simple story.
What Do I Want, What Do I Need?, by Rachel Eagen, is a nonfiction, money-focused book. Designed to teach kids about spending, it takes kids through the process of how we make choices, starting with the difference between wants and needs (and wanting more than we need.) This could be a starting point to talk about the use of lights and electronics in our homes.
Luz Sees the Light, a graphic novel by Claudia Dávila, follows Luz, who can't buy the latest runners because of a city-wide blackout. Her next door neighbour, Gord, a local environmentalist, teaches her about the carbon footprint of buying running shoes, and Luz ends up revitalizing a community space, by composting the earth into rich soil. This is more of an independent reading recommendation for junior students interested in saving the planet—with instructions of how to compost at the back of the book.
In Earth to Audrey, by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Stephane Poulin, Ray’s new next door neighbour appears to do alien-like things, like flying a kite from her bedroom window, training grasshoppers, lying barefoot in the grass, explaining the earth's rotation and the Big Bang theory. The reader is left inferring Audrey’s special connection to the earth. Who in your class or family has a similar empathy and willingness to join in Earth Hour?
On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.
As this enchanting picture book begins, a young boy is fondly remembering last summer, when his dad built an awesome tree house in their backyard. “My brother and I spent most of that summer in the tree house. It was the best summer ever.” Sadly, everything has changed this year. His brother is now “too busy with his friends” to come to the …
In this companion to the bestselling Picture a Tree, Barbara Reid has us look up . . . way up
Wherever we may be, we share the same sky. But every hour, every day, every season, whether in the city or the forest, it is different. The sky tells many stories: in the weather, in the clouds, in the stars, in the imagination. Renowned artist Barbara Reid …
Sandy and her dog Pepper are taking a walk on the beach when they come across a pile of garbage left by people who were having a bonfire. Along comes an old woman whom Sandy knows as “the garbage lady". Sandy soon realizes that she is friendly, and she teaches Sandy about her eco footprint and the responsibility she has to shrink it.
What happens when one small boy picks up one small piece of litter? He doesn't know it, but his tiny act has big consequences. From the miniscule to the universal, What Matters sensitively explores nature's connections and traces the ripple effects of one child’s good deed to show how we can all make a big difference.
Change is in the air. Power outages are increasing, and gas prices are soaring. At first, 12-year-old Luz balks, hardly thrilled by the prospect of actually having to walk to the mall. But Luz doesn't mope for long. After all, her name --- pronounced “loose” --- means “light.” Soon, this intelligent and spirited chica begins to understand t …
Audrey comes into Ray's life like an earthbound star. Everything about her is a bit far-out. And she's always in her own little world. So Ray decides that this unusual girl who has dropped into his neighborhood for the summer must be an alien.
As they become friends, Audrey takes Ray on a journey of discovery --- one that enables him to see his own …