Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Nonfiction Environmental Conservation & Protection

Not Your Typical Book about the Environment

by (author) Elin Kelsey

illustrated by Clayton Hanmer

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Mar 2010
Environmental Conservation & Protection, Comic Strips & Cartoons
Recommended Age
9 to 13
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2010
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


We live in a time of heightened environmental awareness, and the stress of this pervasive alarmism is creating a generation of kids with feelings of eco-anxiety — the world is doomed, isn't it? Maybe not. Not Your Typical Book about the Environment aims to allay some of these fears by showing how all is not lost. Young readers will learn about the remarkable time that they are living in: the Anthropocene era where humans are the dominating environmental force on Earth. This is a time of amazing possibilities as smart technologies, innovative ideas, and a growing commitment to alternative lifestyles are exploding around the world. Each chapter begins by taking everyday objects from a kids' world — T-shirts, video games, bikes — and using these as launching pads to delve into related environmental issues and information. Profiles of unexpected personalities, like Catherine O'Brien, a happiness researcher, are featured throughout. These profiles enforce the overall message that this time of crisis can instead be seen as a time of great opportunity!

About the authors

ELIN KELSEY, PhD, is an award-winning author and a leading spokesperson for hope and the environment. In 2014, she co-created #OceanOptimism, a twitter campaign to crowd-source and share ocean conservation successes which has reached 90 million users to date. She frequently works on projects with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Stanford University and the University of Victoria and is passionate about engaging kids in hopeful, science-based, environmental solutions. See more at

Elin Kelsey's profile page

Clayton Hanmer is an illustrator whose crude, energetic comic style has given him a surprisingly broad range of clients from The Globe and Mail to Owl Magazine. He is also the illustrator of The Secret Life of Money by Kira Vermond (Owlkids Books, 2012) and Not Your Typical Book about the Environment by Elin Kelsey (Owlkids Books, 2010). He lives in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada.

Clayton Hanmer's profile page


  • Winner, Newton Marasco Foundation, Green Earth Book Award, Non-fiction Category
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Best Books for Kids and Teens Selection
  • Short-listed, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-fiction
  • Short-listed, Ontario Library Association, Silver Birch Award
  • Winner, Skipping Stones Honor Award, Nature and Ecology Book Category
  • Winner, Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, Environmental Issues Category, Gold
  • Short-listed, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, Juvenile Non-fiction Category
  • Commended, Green Book Festival Awards, Children's Category, Honor Book
  • Long-listed, CYBILS, Non-fiction Middle/Teen Category
  • Commended, Ontario Library Association, Top 10 Canadian Children's Books, Non-fiction Category, Best Bets List

Editorial Reviews

A great gift for a curious or environmentally conscious kid, or a starting point for doing a project or making a change, I recommend this one as a great way to start learning about Earth and what we can do to help her out.

Kittenpie Reads KidLit

This is an intriguing, fact-filled book about saving the environment in unusual ways…This hilarious, information-packed work is an excellent addition.

School Library Journal

Elin Kelsey has produced a highly engaging book, pointing out surprising connections between kids’ lives and the rest of the planet. The illustrations are fantastic and make a complex subject — conservation and sustainable living — easy to understand. A wonderful book for educating children — and adults — about the environment.

Jane Goodall Ph.D., DBE Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

This is a book so filled with innovation, creativity and promise that my hope is this book becomes the start of many more titles of the same cheery tone! ….I can’t praise this book enough, not only for providing a wealth of fascinating new ideas but for encouraging and perhaps starting a new philosophy of teaching to children.

Word of Mouse Book Reviews

Fun, informative, and full of hope...succeeds in getting kids excited about the time they're living in and their ability to save the world.

Finding Solutions (David Suzuki Foundation)

[This] exceptionally positive approach to ecological issues encourage[s] children to recognize their power in contributing to the well-being of the planet.

Canadian Children’s Book News

Kelsey has gathered together enough eco-friendly life strategies and feel-good stories from around the globe to get budding environmental warriors started.

Quill & Quire

With a combination of fun illustrations, cartoons, and an inviting, optimistic tone, this book will draw in excellent resource in middle school and even high school libraries.

This very appealing book, both visually and in terms of content…contains so much information and so many interesting details, that it is difficult to do justice to this title.

Resource Links

It’s a smart approach, and one that should inspire.

Publishers Weekly

Can we move from nations of ‘Captains of Industrial Agriculture’ to ‘Super Sustainable Farmers’? According to this book’s well-thought-out logic and messaging on this and many other aspects of environmental awareness, of course we can.

The Globe and Mail

The information included is well-researched and compelling to children and adults. Humor is used throughout and contributes to the non-threatening feel of this excellent resource.


full of novel ideas ... would appeal to the scientific-minded youngster.

Cottage Country Reflections

This upbeat, creative, wide-reaching explanation is indeed a standout in a genre composed primarily of lamentations for the polar bear…this is one of the best books to date at dealing both concretely and philosophically with the blend of opportunity and challenge contained in the green movement.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

The green solutions described in this book, such as eco-friendly clothing and urban farming, will surely inspire readers to make a difference in their communities.

B-Zone Magazine

An optimistic look at choices we can make to improve the planet, this book assesses the impact of everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. But instead of laying a guilt trip on readers, it points to eco-friendly alternatives, from devising new products to opting for vintage clothes instead of new.

Washington Post

Librarian Reviews

Not Your Typical Book About the Environment

It’s summer in Sandy’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint and Sandy is visiting her grandfather who lives by the sea. They love the beach and Grandpa has taught her much about its wildlife. As Sandy rushes eagerly to the shore, she is disgusted to find a large pile of garbage carelessly left behind. As she sets about cleaning up HER beach, a local eccentric, the Garbage Lady, assists her. Through her, Sandy is benevolently introduced to the concept of ecological footprints, “the mark you leave on the world.” Sandy rushes home, eager to discuss how she and her family can shrink their footprint.

This delightful picture book depicts the exuberance and enthusiasm of a child first realizing her power to help preserve the environment. The message, using simple vocabulary, is practical and the list Sandy’s family compiles to reduce their footprint is realistic. Authors Femida Handy and Carole Carpenter are respectively Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Coordinator of Children’s Studies at York University. The energetic collages by artist Adrianna Steele-Card are full of intriguing detail. Supporting the environmental theme, they are created from recycled and natural materials such as birchbark, old magazines and rose petals. The results are most satisfying.

Not Your Typical Book About the Environment allays reader’s fears of planetary doom and gloom, leaving them optimistic and empowered as they recognize the many worldwide changes occurring through technology, law or individual effort.

Four key areas — clothing, food, technology and alternative lifestyles — are discussed. Pros and cons of the status quo and their alternatives are examined, realistically reflecting the complexity of environmental issues. A series of cartoon strips are interspersed, depicting surprising connections between different objects in our world.

The reader is treated to an array of tantalizing information and fascinating facts presented systematically and breezily by Elin Kelsey, an author and ecologist who teaches at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. The humorous illustrations of Clayton Hanmer, an award-winning Toronto-based artist, ably reflect the informational, upbeat tone of the text and will appeal to young readers.

Both titles have an exceptionally positive approach to ecological issues and encourage children to recognize their power in contributing to the well-being of the planet. Both strongly affirm for their respective age groups that small changes in our lifestyles can have major impacts and will be invaluable additions to any collection, having a myriad uses in schools, libraries and classrooms.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2010. Vol.33 No.3.

Not Your Typical Book About the Environment

In this book author Elin Kelsey presents a positive message about the environment. She explains to children that we have the power to choose what we wear, what we eat and how we get from place to place each day and how those choices connect us to the Earth. An antidote to eco-anxiety, this informative book explores the countless wonderful things about living on Earth.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

Other titles by

Other titles by

Related lists