This post was originally published on Eco-Libris blog on November 3rd.
Last September we announced on our collaboration with Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing in an educational contest – I CAN SAVE THE EARTH!. This was in a celebration of their new line of eco-friendly children’s books, Little Green Books.
During the time of the contest (you can participate until December 1st, 2008 – see more details here) we review the first four books that were published so far. So far we reviewed Little Monkey and Little Panda, and today we have the pleasure to present you with the third green little book.
Our book for today is: The Polar Bears’ Home: A Story About Global Warming
Author: Lara Bergen
Illustrated by: Vincent Nguyen
Ages: 4 – 6
Description: Come along on an Arctic adventure with a little girl and her father and learn all about polar bears! This 8 x 8 storybook shows how global warming affects two baby polar bear cubs and their family. Includes tips for kids on what they can do to help slow down global warming. This 8 x 8 paperback book is perfect-bound and will be printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper with soy-ink. The paper is FSC certified.
I enjoyed this book so much that I decided I need to talk to the author, Lara Bergen (see photo below), to learn more about her work on the book, which I find a great combination of text and illustrations that together creates one of the smartest and enjoyable green books for kids I read lately. Lara agreed to share her thoughts with us and here is the full interview with her:
Can you tell us about yourself and what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve written many books for children, but not a lot of nonfiction. When Simon & Schuster presented me with the idea of writing about an ecosystem in trouble, I immediately thought of the Arctic (I think the movie Arctic Tale had just come out, and the Global Warming crisis’s effect on the polar bears’ habitat was frequently in the news). And, of course, no one can deny that polar bear cubs make extremely appealing subjects for children’s books!
What did you learn about polar bears during the writing process?
I learned so much! I knew that polar bears hunted seals, but I had no idea how. And I had no idea they had to travel such great distances and hunt so much over the course of the winter and are so relatively inactive during the summer (the opposite of most black and brown bears we know).
You managed to write a beautiful optimistic story for kids that is actually a very sad story with no certain happy ending – how do you do it?
Well, what else can you do? Unfortunately, we can’t undo the past, we can only look forward–and I really didn’t want to scare or depress readers–but more inspire them to try to take care of the Earth and its inhabitants from this point on as best they can.
Unlike many other children’s books about the environment, you keep a very realistic tone through all the story which keeps it very real – was it your intention in the first place?
Yes, definitely. I wanted to give the reader a sense of immediacy to the subject matter–and a situation which is all too real.
What is the main lesson you want children to learn from this story?
That the Earth is truly warming up and truly threatening the survival of this wonderful, iconic species–and we simply have to do as much as we can to reverse the trend.
Did you get already feedbacks from children on the book? how do they find it?
No, I haven’t.
I like the dad figure: he gives his daughter all the information she needs, portrays reality in a very balanced way, even if when the truth is inconvenient, and doesn’t try to ‘sell’ her a fake shiny description of life. Do you believe all parents should adopt such approach?
Yes, I think they have to. Children are too insightful, and ask too many questions not to. Of course, you don’t want to scare them–but parents need to appreciate that with the right approach, children are actually empowered by the truth.
Do you believe kids can make a difference in our world?
I certainly hope so! There was just an article in the Times about children demanding more environmental responsibility from their parents, and taking more upon themselves. Kids can make some difference now…and hopefully a lot of difference in the future!
How important to you was the fact that the book walks the talk, is printed on recycled paper and is part of a wider effort to educate children about green issues?
That’s definitely a good start. (Of course, the more locally they can be printed, and the less shipped, the better, too.)
What’s your next book is going to be about? are you planning to write more green-themed books for children in the future?
Actually, right now I’m working on an early fictional chapter book series (coming out 2010) – and I have an idea for a green-themed title within it. I hope to do many more!
Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing are giving away one package of the 4 books published so far in the Little Green Books line: Little Panda, Little Monkey, I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle and The Polar Bears’ Home: A Story About Global Warming.
This is a great prize and firstly we thank Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for it! How do you get a chance to win this prize? please add a comment below with an answer for the following question: do you prefer a realistic tone in a children’s story that deals with environmental issues or you’re for a lighter tone? if you have stories from your own experience with your kids that would be great.
Submissions are accepted until Sunday, November 9, 12PM EST. We will pick the comment we liked best and the winner will be announced the following day.
More relevant links:
I CAN SAVE THE EARTH! contest web page
On Eco-Libris website: http://www.ecolibris.net/littlegreenbooks.asp
Green Little Books’ website: www.SimonSaysKids.com/LittleGreenBooks
Review of ‘Little Monkey’ and ‘Little Panda’: http://ecolibris.blogspot.com/2008/10/mondays-green-books-serieslittle-panda.html
[This post was written by Raz Godelnik.]
I think there’s a place for both realistic and lighter tones in children’s books about environmental issues. It takes different types of books to get the same message to a variety of people.
I prefer to make it more realistic as long as it is not so in depth that they will not understand (it needs to be age appropriate)
I feel it is important to tell our children the truth – as a nation we looked away from the “inconvenient truth” for too long. On the other hand, it is important to have an optimistic tone otherwise, our challenges might seem insurmountable and they certainly are not!
Mini activists need to be inspired just like the rest of us! I would love to donate this set to my daughter’s nursery school to inspire her class and classes in the future.
I agree that it needs to be age appropriate. With preschoolers, I enjoy the light, yet also realistic approach- give them the knowledge and explain to them “why”, yet keep it fun for them.
My 3 year old gets so excited when it is time for her chores- her favorite is rolling the huge recycling barrel to the bottom of the driveway every Wednesday night, and making sure it is in the perfect spot for the recycling truck.
Thanks for the giveaway…