Book Bites: Environmental Empathy

The subject of environmental awareness prevails more frequently now within school classrooms than ever before. Children’s stories allow discussions to rotate gently around this global concern. These next few picture books and novels encourage understanding and promote empathy in ways that young children are capable of embracing and actioning themselves.

Emily Green’s Garden

This winning play on words picture book is suffused with every hue of verdant. Lush greens, sandy browns and lilac blues tendril casually across the pages as author, Penny Harrison cultivates a story of change and mindfulness. In many ways, it reflects the engrossing tale, One Tree by Christopher Cheng; where a young child’s world is transformed by a simple discovery and subsequent drive to nurture life until a significant change takes place. In this case, it’s the greening of Emily’s entire suburban neighbourhood. Life was lovely before but radiates a better kind of lovely following Emily’s gardening exploits. An exquisitely illustrated tale promoting us to slow down, look up and pick the cherry tomatoes – after planting some of course! Kids will get a kick out of watching big things grow from small ones and learn how to initiate and encompass change.

Title: Emily Green’s Garden
Author: Penny Harrison
Illustrator: Megan Forward
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing, $24.99
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925594249
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: New Frontier Publishing

Hodge Podge Lodge

The Pigwigs live in Hodge Podge Lodge and as you can guess from the name and glean from the delightfully whimsical illustrations, it’s a bit of a higgledy-piggledy mess. The Pigwigs, although noticeably British European in their portrayal, reflect many first world families: they are high end consumers, producing large levels of refuse and waste from having too much stuff! When their accumulated filth finds its way into the countryside affecting the welfare of the woodland creatures, an intervention is enacted. Miss Pigwig’s resourceful creativity eventually provides a way to keep the environment clean and utilise their waste. Whilst a typical stereotype of messy pigs (who are actually one of the cleanest creatures in the barnyard!) is used to portray a story about reusing, recycling and reducing, it works thanks to Lamont’s beguiling illustrations and eye-catching typography.

Title: Hodge Podge Lodge
Author: Priscilla Lamont
Illustrator: Priscilla Lamont
Publisher: New Frontier, $24.99
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925594287
For ages:  3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: New Frontier Publishing

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-Up

This small but bright picture book by popular Australian author, Sally Morgan and illustrator, Ambelin Kwaymullina, gently escorts young readers through a day in the bush as Benny Bungarra discovers his friends in varying states of distress caused by their encounters with human rubbish. After administrating care to each of them, Benny decides something needs to be done and establishes a plan to reduce, reuse and recycle. These pro-active bush creatures begin their own clean-up, which one hopes translates into learning positive behaviour for youngsters. I love the bold use of lolly-pop colour to depict this story and frame each page of narrative. Perfect to hold the attention of 3 – 6-year-olds. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Small Seeds Reads: Magabala Books for Little Hands philanthropic initiative.

Title: Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-Up
Author: Sally Morgan
Illustrator: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Publisher: Magabala Books, $16.99
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925360882
For ages:  3 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Magabala Books

How To Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet: A Garbological Adventure!

We may have messed up this planet good and proper, but scientist, TV presenter and author, Lee Constable is determined to arm the next generation of eco-heroes with as much information as possible about waste management and environmental rescue to ensure this is not perpetuated. This hilariously illustrated graphic novel styled non-fiction book is stuffed full of fun facts, activities, and DYI eco-experiments (making paper and establishing compost bins for example) guaranteed to fire up the waste warrior in any primary aged kid, including those of us a little older than them. 

Before swamping readers with planet-saving suggestions, Constable carefully explains why we should consider controlling waste and what actually makes our home planet ‘stink’ and how it’s hurting our planet. Easy to digest chapters breakdown the Waste Warrior mission into meaningful chunks of thought provoking, pro-active goals; it reads like a comic book story yet leaves you buzzing with purpose. And that’s the very brilliance of this book; by the time kids have graduated as Waste Warriors, a mindset of reuse, reduce and recycle has been firmly established, which hopefully spills (in a non-garbagy way) into their everyday lives, schools and homes. Top marks for saving the planet with science and savvy.

Title: How to Save the Whole Stinkin’ Planet: A Garbological Adventure!
Author: Lee Constable
Illustrator: James Hart
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $19.99
Publication Date: June 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760890261 
For ages:
Type: Middle Grade Non-Fiction

Buy the Book: Penguin Random House Australia, Boomerang Books


Norah Colvin said…
Thanks for sharing these, Dimity. Each seems important in its own way.
DimbutNice said…
My pleasure, Norah. They are but are all also intrinsically the same, delivering a nice message to be more eco-aware and empathetic. Nice classroom reading additions.

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