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Earth Day Books for Kids – A 2020 Roundup




Wednesday, April 22, is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day which will be celebrated around the globe. Read below about some new picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, that Christine Van Zandt recommends to help your children understand the significance of this holiday.


by Henry Cole

(Scholastic Press; $18.99, eBook available, Ages 4-8)

One of my favorite things about Henry Cole’s gorgeous, wordless picture book, One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey, is the prologue. I was hooked from the first image: a forest where one tree—colored brown—stands out. Cole’s amazingly detailed black-ink drawings are juxtaposed by brown-colored items: the tree, first made into paper, becomes an unassuming lunch bag.

In the Author’s Note, Cole shares how, in 1970 for the first Earth Day, he decided to not throw out has lunch bag that day. Or the next one. Eventually, he used that bag about 700 times! Then, when he went to college, he passed the velvet-soft bag to his younger friend who used it for another year. Wow! This really hit home with me. I’m conscientious about noncompostables, but will now consider the possibilities of paper products.

Using a humble brown bag as its central element, the story follows the bag’s journey from creation to conclusion. We are emotionally engaged with the little boy as he grows to adulthood and the family members we meet along the way. This story drives home the messages that even seemingly insignificant choices matter and that kids have the power to change things. These workhorse lunch bags are relatively inexpensive and typically don’t garner a second thought. Cole’s true-life story brings this simple item to the front page of his book and the forefront of our attention. Bravo!  Starred Review – Kirkus Reviews


Written by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati
(Little Bee Books; $17.99, Ages 4-8)

When I think of the mischievously adorable Peter Rabbit, of course his creator, Beatrix Potter, comes to mind. But, who was the woman behind this famous character? Linda Elovitz Marshall’s picture book, Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit fills in the blanks.

Potter was a bright artistic girl who lived in the city but cherished the family’s summers in the country. Too soon, it was back to the constraints of being a Victorian-era girl. Focusing on her drawings, Potter, later, was able to land a job—but only because the publisher thought she was a man. Throughout the story, we see Potter pushing against and past the bonds of what a woman was “supposed to do.” While these actions were commendable, Potter also took on the role of conservationist, buying up more than 4,000 acres of beloved land to keep it peacefully undeveloped; her donation to the UK’s National Trust allowed the area’s preservation.

The illustrator, Ilaria Urbinati, enlivens Potter’s story in a muted old-fashioned style complementary to the text. Be sure to check beneath the cover for a clever second image: a before-and-after of Potter in her cherished landscape.

This behind-the-scenes look at Potter’s life will engage kids because it’s relatable and inspirational—showing you can make a career doing what you love, break through societal limits, and care for our planet. What Potter managed in her 77 years was exceptional. Starred Review – Foreward Reviews


THE GIRL WHO SPOKE TO THE MOON:The Girl Who Spoke to the Moon cvr
Written by Land Wilson
Illustrated by Sue Cornelison
(Little Pickle Press; $17.99, Kindle eBook available, Ages 4-8)

Land Wilson’s rhyming picture book, The Girl Who Spoke to the Moon: A Story About Friendship and Loving Our Planet, is a gentle story packing a powerful message. Little Sofia befriends the Moon and, one night when he’s blue, she imagines herself up there, seeing the Earth from a new perspective. The Moon sadly tells her, “With dirty waters, land, and air, it looks as though she’s in despair. Her people seem so unaware that what Earth needs is better care.”

Sue Cornelison’s soothing images are in the muted tones of a bedtime book, yet, the swoops of sparkles throughout give the story movement and feeling. Once Sofia realizes she must share her findings, we’re shown glimpses of children from around the world doing their part to help our planet.

The end matter provides explanations of how the Earth’s air, land, and water are polluted, followed by simple suggestions such as creating less trash and eating less meat. In the Author’s Note, Wilson shares how astronauts love looking back at our planet, but how that distance also brings an understanding of Earth’s vulnerability and precious importance. Wilson urges us to make the Earth’s well-being a priority: “When people work together, our power grows. But we need to work faster, harder, and smarter”—a message that should be taken to heart as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I like how Wilson’s commentary is both realistic and optimistic, hopefully inciting readers to action.


Christine’s also reviewed If We Were Giants, a middle grade novel ideal for Earth Day reading.

Read an illustrator interview here for Greta and the Giants.

Click here for another recommended read for 🌎Earth Day.

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Make it Fun!

I don’t often get the chance to review craft books for kids, but when this one crossed my desk I knew it was one that I would revisit again and again. Re-Craft: Unique Projects That Look Great (And Save The Planet) by Jen Jones and Carol Sirrine ($12.95, Capstone, ages 8 and up) is a bargain and a treasure because the projects included will cost next to nothing and what you need to make them can be found just by digging through your closets, drawers or recycling bin at home!

In over 100 pages, you will find step-by-step instructions, how-to photos and finished projects, tweens and teens can easily make any of these crafts in no time at all and they may even start a new trend.  There are so many original crafts in Re-Craft, but one of my favorites is Best Bow on page 98. Made from wrapping paper, this clever craft will help you use up all those wrapping paper pieces you’ve been hoarding in hopes that one day you’d have a very small package to wrap. I know this first hand! I keep all the small scraps since it seems such a shame to toss them when that good quality wrapping paper (the kind you buy from your child’s school fundraisers) is so darn expensive!

The book is divided into four practical sections: Old Clothes, Recyclables, All Natural and Paper and Cardboard with at least eight crafts per section. There’s a helpful and informative intro to each section and handy tips. So whether your crafter is seeking something fun to do on a rainy day or wants to make a friend a cool looking journal from magazines, this is the book that will make it all possible. Who knew recycling could be so creative?!!

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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You Can Change The World

31 Ways to Change the World (Candlewick Press, $8.99, ages 8-12) is reviewed today by Debbie Glade.

0763645060med31 Ways to Change the World is the result of suggestions from thousands of children. The theory is that “Small Actions x Lots of People = Big Change.” Inside this ultra colorful and busy book are 31 really cute and crafty, yet simple actions we can take every day to make the world a better place to live. I love that the book teaches kids about consumption, waste and preservation, plus treating others well. For example, Action #11 teaches you to the love the stuff you already have. Other actions include teaching your granny to text, giving people compliments, taking shorter showers and not starting a war. Hey, maybe this book should be for adults too. In any event, the premise of 31 Ways to Change the World is all for the greater good, and it really is clever. I’m sending my copy to my daughter, who is a freshman in college. I know she’s going to love it. She’ll particularly enjoy Action #25, which is “Talk Trash to Your Parents.”

debbieglade1Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for She blogs daily at

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Earth Bug Action

jacket-earth-bugsIntroducing the Earth Bugs’ first book! Lu and the Earth Bug Crew Zap the Energy Spikes by Derek Sabori ($17.95; ages 5-10) is just the right vehicle to pave the way for meaningful discussion about energy, recycling and the environment with your children. In addition to its being a fun and educational story to share with kids, the illustrations by Steve Riley and Mark Adams are colorful, creative and so very au courant! So get your copy today and get ready for Lu, Rock, Fern, and Kordy to become your child’s newest BFFs.

page-3I met local author, Derek Sabori at a green event in Pasadena this summer and read the book that evening. I simply did not want to wait until Earth Day 2010 to recommend it to readers.

Boys and girls  (all over, especially Southern Californians, will get a kick from the skate and surf theme which dominates the book. More than that, though, they’ll enjoy the action and adventure as the Earth Bug crew are pitted against the nasty Energy Spikes whose very existence is a result of waste and “un-green” behavior worldwide. While kids will certainly find the battle scene and resourcefulness of Lu’s Earth Bug Crew thoroughly entertaining, parents will welcome that Earth Bug books are printed using soy-blended inks and printed on 10% post-consumer waste paper helping to reduce the “environmental footprint…in an eco-friendly manner.” Readers can learn more and purchase the book at A handy Eco-Glossary is included in the end pages. I’m an Earth Bug. Are you?


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