Category Archives: Environmental Activism

Journey Under the Arctic

Written by: James O. Fraoili

Illustrated by: Joe St. Pierre

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English, gives a small Inuit phrase guide as well. 

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Environmental Activism, Nature, Adventure, Global Warming, Graphic Novel, STEM.

Summary: 

This comic book adventure is the second in the Fabien Cousteau Expeditions series, designed for upper elementary readers.  The story follows an arctic exploration crew of Fabien (grandson of Jacques Cousteau!), Gloria Perez marine biologist, and exploration supervisor Matt Chan along with two junior expeditions named Rocco and Olivia.  Unfortunately, we haven’t read the first book in the series yet, so we’re not sure if this is the same crew as the first book!

We will say, the book is very good.  Although in one scene of the comic, the group goes to visit a group of Inuit people, and the reader is informed that they may also know the Inuit as Esk*mos (which is considered a slur by some, find more information here).  This would have been a fabulous point of the book to slip in a line about this, but we are provided with a few Inuit phrases.  This would be the only suggestion we have, overall we enjoyed it very much and there’s tons of interesting facts about the Arctic and global warming as well.

Did you know that ice worms liquefy in temperatures greater than 41F?  We didn’t until we read this awesome comic!  When reading, we also learn a lot of interesting facts about how much carbon can be offset by taking simple steps like raising a home thermostat 2 degrees in the summer.  We follow the crew from walking over the frozen tundra to diving 1000 feet below the surface to escape a thrashing bow whale, learning about the creatures that live and thrive at each level of the ocean while searching for the elusive dumbo octopus.  If you like aquatic adventures and learning about how to live more environmentally friendly, this is the book for you! It’s being released…today!

This book was generously sent to us by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own.

About the Authors & the Illustrator:

81+gMRPnjDL._US230_James O. Fraioli is an award-winning food author and photographer. His work has appeared on the Food Network and in Forbes Traveler and the New York Times. He is the creator and producer of the documentary television series: NTSB: ALASKA for Smithsonian Channel (airs March 2016), INSIDE DEATH ROW for National Geographic Channel, which received a coveted award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, ALASKA WINGMEN also for National Geographic, HAWAII AIR RESCUE for Weather Channel, and SHARK WEEK episodes for Discovery Channel, among others. Prior to documentary television, Fraioli spent 17 years working in various feature film capacities for Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, and Warner Bros.

Joe-StPierreJoe St.Pierre began his comic book career at Valiant Comics, as penciler of RAI, and co-creator of SECRET WEAPONS. He has sold over 2 million comic books, as a writer and artist for Marvel, DC (Aquaman, Green Lantern), Image (Megahurtz), IDW (Transformers), Boom (Power Rangers) and Dynamite.

Joe has the distinction of penciling the most #1 issues featuring SPIDER-MAN and/or the Spider-Man family.

Joe also works in the fields of commercial illustration, intellectual property design and storyboards for Animation and Video Games. Clients have included MTV, Capstone, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. Animation, Cartoon Network, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Sony, PBS, The Amazing Kreskin and Activision. He is the co-creator and illustrator of the FABIEN COUSTEAU EXPEDITIONS, a new graphic novel series published by Simon & Schuster.

Joe’s publishing company, Astronaut Ink, highlights his own creator-owned properties BOLD BLOOD, MEGAHURTZ® and most recently NEW ZODIAX. The NEW ZODIAX Graphic Novel first printing sold out, and thanks to two successful Kickstarter campaigns, the second printing is now available thru comic shops and the Astronaut Ink website.

Cousteau-FabienAs the first grandson of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Fabien spent his early years aboard his famous grandfather’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone; and learning how to scuba dive on his fourth birthday.

He is well known for his study of sharks and from 2000-2002, Fabien was an Explorer At-Large for National Geographic and collaborated on a TV special that aimed to change public conceptions about sharks called, “Attack of the Mystery Shark”.

In 2003-2006, he produced the documentary, “Mind of a Demon,” that aired on CBS. With the help of a large crew, Fabien created a 14-foot, 1,200-pound, lifelike shark submarine called “Troy” that enabled him to immerse himself inside the shark world, providing viewers with a rare view of the mysterious and often misunderstood creatures.

For the next four years (2006-2010), Fabien was part of a multi-hour series for PBS called, “Ocean Adventures” with his father, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and sister, Céline. Inspired by his grandfather’s famous 1978 PBS series, “The Cousteau Odyssey”. In the following years, and as a member of multiple cause-driven and charitable boards Fabien has been working with local communities and children worldwide to help restore local water ecosystems.

In June 2014, Fabien and his team of aquanauts embarked on Mission 31, the longest science expedition to take place at Aquarius, the world’s only underwater marine laboratory located in Florida. Fabien’s Mission 31 broke new ground in ocean exploration and honored the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s original underwater living experiment (Conshelf Two) by going deeper, longer and further, while broadcasting each moment live on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, drama and mystique of what lies beneath. After 31 days of underwater research, Fabien managed to break his grandfather’s Red Sea record and collect 3 years’ worth of data in his short time underwater. The expedition reached over 100,000 children on all six continents; and more than 30 billion media impressions. Coming off this great success, Fabien created the OLC with the hope to continue Mission 31’s goal of preserving our ocean.

Recently Fabien has spent time on various oceanic projects, and been featured on numerous television specials. In 2018, Fabien and the Aquatica Submarine team submeberged into the great Belize Blue Hole and mapped the entirety of the sink hole; discovering areas that were once above water, underwater wildlife, and human debris. The entire special was broadcasted live on The Discovery Channel!

Hike [released 3/17]

Written & Illustrated by: Pete Oswald

For ages: any

Language: English, but there are very few words in this book!

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Outdoors, Gender Neutral Stories, Family, Traditions, Nature, Environmental Activism. 

Summary: 

Hike is a beautiful wordless adventure between father and child outdoors! This adorable story is one of genuine excitement at spending the day outdoors, and the child remains ungendered throughout the entire story (which we adore).  The pair traverse over logs, take photos, and admire birds.  I also love that the pair pictured aren’t white, it’s so rare we see books that focus on the outdoors with just characters of color! As the story continues, the read finds out exactly why the pair is making the hike.

The captivating illustrations by Pete Oswald convey emotion, movement, and reads like a comic book in places with several smaller vignette’s on some pages, giving context for the pair’s long and winding journey.  There is even a short note about the family tradition the two are fulfilling, and it is one that we would love to integrate into our own family as well.  It’s wonderful to have more stories about families that venerate nature and the outdoors, and are excited to spend time together.  Hike is released on 3/17, just in time to inspire spring adventures!

This book was kindly sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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Pete Oswald is a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator and an Annie Award-nominated animation production designer best known for The Angry Birds Movie film franchise and Oscar® Nominated ParaNorman, in addition to multiple animated studio films. He is also known for his work as a children’s book author and illustrator, and painter. Pete’s work includes the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book, The Good Egg, and the #2 New York Times bestselling picture book, The Bad Seed, both written by Jory John.

IntersectionAllies: we make room for all

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Written by: Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi

Illustrated by: Ashley Seil Smith

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Intersectionality (as you may have already guessed), diversity, solidarity, activism, identity, activism, disability, protest.

Summary: 

This book is incredible! Written in an accessible way, the reader is introduced to a group of friends that have unique intersections of identity without it feeling like they were manifested to teach us a lesson about diversity.  There is not only a forward by Kimberlé Crenshaw herself (who coined the term ‘intersectionality’) but a letter to grownups about how to introduce concepts to kids like empathy.  Having this book address presumably the adult reader of the book prepares them for how to talk in-depth about the topics within the book, and frame them in a helpful way for the younger readers/listeners.  The letter emphasizes the importance of teaching solidarity and intersectionality to children from a young age, which is something we couldn’t agree more with.

When reading the story, we meet characters like Allie, the basketball fiend who also uses a wheelchair, and Kate who is non-binary and likes to wear a cape.  Adilah is an avid dancer and hijabi, taking ballet classes with some of her friends.  Nia participates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and the reader learns about protesting.  The kids featured in the book are dynamic and friendly, with bilingual identities reflected as well.

In the back are more resources and a vocabulary guide that mentions specific page numbers, giving valuable and robust information for further discussion.  It is refreshing to have such care taken, thoroughly underscoring the learning that this book provides for all who open its covers.  We cannot say enough good things about it, this book should have a space on every bookshelf and it’s praise shouted from the rooftops.

About the Authors & the Illustrator In their Own Words:

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Dr. Chelsea Johnson

“As a kid, I was often the only Black girl in my classrooms. Growing up as an “outsider within” my mostly white schools piqued my interest in how race, class, and gender shape social life. I gained the tools to understand my experiences as an undergraduate at Spelman College, an Historically Black College for women in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was at Spelman that I became a feminist. I went on to earn a PhD in sociology at the University of Southern California. My dissertation explored how fashion, politics, and culture relate. I traveled around the world, interviewing women with African roots in South Africa, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, Spain, and the United States about their lives. I now use research to help companies design products with underrepresented groups in mind. When I’m not researching or writing, I enjoy watercolor painting, reading fiction, and eating my way through new cities.”

 

LaToya Council

photo_1056258“I was raised in a single-parent mother-headed home. I would often stare at my mother in awe of her super-shero abilities to manage so many family demands while holding multiple jobs to make ends meet. These memories inspired my vision for a more inclusive world and drove me toward studying sociology at Spelman College, where I first learned about the concept of intersectionality. After graduating from Spelman, I studied the inequalities in love and how race, gender, and class intersect to inform relationship experiences for my master’s at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. I am currently working on my dissertation at the University of Southern California, which examines time use and self-care among Black middle-class couples. Intersectionality and the power of love frame how I do allyship and research. When not researching, I enjoy practicing meditation, cooking, and hanging with my cat Mimi.”

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Carolyn Choi

The Los Angeles Riots were a defining moment in my childhood that shaped my identity as a person of color and brought me to feminism later in life. My interests in gender, culture, and immigration led me to study sociology and Korean literature at UCLA. After graduating from college, I began community-based organizing and advocacy work as an intern at Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Alliance, a non-profit civil rights organization in Los Angeles. I earned my master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009. A few years later, I began doctoral study in sociology at the University of Southern California. My research tackles issues around migrant labor, human trafficking, and international education and has taken me across the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In my spare time, I enjoy spreading greater awareness about the Korean arts through performing pansori, a form of traditional folk music.”

Ashley Seil-Smith

lighter“I grew up one of five girls (and a twin!) in Southern California and Texas. My conservative roots prompted questions about privilege and feminism, which led me to study cultural anthropology as an undergraduate, including ethnographic research on women’s health in South India. I eventually moved to New York City and helped launch The Period Store as a vehicle to educate women about all of their options for period management, while also earning my MFA from the School of Visual Arts. When I’m not drawing, painting, or print making, you can find me outside being active or caring for my menagerie of adopted senior animals with the help of my husband, Nate.”

Firu’s Forest

Written by: J. Leigh Shelton

Illustrated by: Danica Jokic

For ages: 5-10 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth, Nature, Natural World. 

Summary: This book is a collection of 3 stories, connected by cameos and the rainforest.

The first story is about a boy named Sebastian, who lives with his grandmother and loves bananas very much.  He plants a banana plant and when his grandmother asks if he plans on sharing the bananas, Sebastian assures her he won’t be able to because he will eat all of them.  Once the tree starts producing fruit and Sebastian makes a new friend, will he be able to stick to his word and decide not to share?

The second story is about two cats, one very friendly and one very scared.  The black cat is extremely cautious, because it had been hurt before.  The two cat friends discuss what it means to be fulfilled in life, and how to be like the smiling sloth even through hardship.  Can the black cat let go of the past and make new friendships?

The third story is about a dog, the titular character Firu.  Firu has the honor of his fur being used to help build a hummingbird nest, thus beginning a close friendship with the tiny egg and subsequently tiny bird that hatches out of it.

These three stories are woven together by both the rainforest setting and the social-emotional growth of the characters that takes place within the stories. What I also like about the three stories in one book is that it allows for conversations with a group about the intertwined storylines, and inferencing about how else the characters might know each other outside of the stories.  The illustrations are beautiful, and we enjoyed the longer text.  The stories are a bit longer than typical picture books, which enabled the reader to know the characters better by the end of the story.  This book could also be used to talk about the environment, preservation, and why we need to be conscientious of how to treat others.

This book was generously sent to us by the author, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0J. Leigh Shelton is the author of Firu’s Forest and a freelance writer living in Florida.

 

 

 

 

20181030154329643Danica Jokic is the illustrator of Firu’s Forest! She also lives in Florida. 

 

 

 

 

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space

Written by: Dr. Dominic Walliman

Illustrated by: Ben Newman

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM

Summary: This book is along the same lines as the other books in the series, scientific information given to us by our favorite feline scientist-Professor Astro Cat!  This time he’s back to share knowledge about gravity, the potential of aliens, and time!  We love this series so much, seriously go check it out!  Galaxies, planets, and space suits oh my!  Something unique about this series is they thrive on the excitement and wonderment of exploration, not pretending to have all of the answers about the universe.  There are illustrations about what might happen if plants grew gigantic on other planets, or humans started living on other planets.

The books are broken up into easy to read and understand subjects, reading much like a comic book.  The incredible illustrations will keep any aged reader entranced for hours!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

DominicWallimanDominic Walliman is a physicist, and award-winning science writer. He is co-creator of the Professor Astro Cat science books with illustrator Ben Newman.

Dominic received his PhD in quantum device physics from the University of Birmingham, and currently works at the quantum computing company D-Wave Systems Inc. As well as writing, he enjoys making films and animations to explain science and has produced a series of online videos communicating D-Wave’s groundbreaking quantum technology and his own videos about general science.

He has been writing science books since 2011, and he aims to give children super fun and clear explanations of science through the adventures of Professor Astro Cat. He grew up reading science books and remembers vividly the excitement of discovering the mind boggling explanations that science gives us about the Universe. If he can pass on this wonder and enjoyment to the next generation, he will consider it a job well done.

 

Desk-shotBen Newman has developed a distinct aesthetic over the years; a contemporary fusion of bold shapes, bright colours and playful characters which has been described as ‘bauhaus fuzzy felt.’ He has produced work for a large range of clients, including the Tate Modern, New York Times, BBC Radio 4, Google and The New Yorker. His practice extends outside of commercial work into worldwide exhibitions, paintings and three dimensional collaborations. Nowadays, he spends the majority of his time collaborating on the Professor Astro Cat children’s books with his longtime friend and scientist, Dr Dominic Walliman, which are published by Flying Eye Books and have been translated into 18 other languages.

Concurrent to working as a freelance illustrator, Newman lectures on illustration at various universities and conferences in the UK and Europe.

Peace, Love, Action!

Written & Illustrated by: Tanya Zabinski

Foreward by: Ani DiFranco

For ages: Middle Grades to read, ages 4 and up to listen.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Social Justice, Activism, Historic Figures, Historic Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Call to Action, Kindness, Peaceful Activism, Gratitude, Resilience, Social Change.

Summary: For our last day in our Week of Intention we have Peaceful Action.  We found it important to begin and end this week with our central vision and mission for The Tiny Activist: activism.  It’s important for children (and adults!) to have lots of examples and options for how to engage in activism and organizing for causes themselves.

Peace, Love, Action! is an amazing book in a multitude of ways and provides examples of peaceful activism and kindness by the boatload.  Set up like an alphabet book but for middle grades, each letter represents a central theme to the activism of a person being profiled.  Zabinski’s illustrations are gorgeous, resembling (or potentially being) linocuts, one of our favorite artistic styles!

F is for Feed, and the reader learns about Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm (an organization we love!) that centralizes ancestral farming practices to help folks of color reconnect with their past through education as well as growing food for donations to local families.

Something else we really love is after each person profiled, there is a list of things that the reader can do to get involved, whatever their passion may be.  Having a myriad of options and critical self-reflection questions accompanying each letter.  With examples like Pete Seeger, Rachel Carson, Black Elk, and Azim Khamisa every person who picks up this book will become inspired to make the world a little better.

Peace, Love, Action! was kindly sent to us by Parallax Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

indexFrom Tanya Zabinski’s website: “I was a tomboy. My nickname was Tinkerbell. I liked riding bikes, creek-slogging and playing flute. I liked reading, drawing and making puppet shows. I liked camping with my family. Those likes have never changed. My artwork and stories are rooted in the things I loved in childhood.

In college, I studied art, design, music and philosophy. I went to Buffalo State College, to an exchange program in Japan for a year, and to Parsons School of Design. I L-O-V-E-D college.

Even though I loved art, as I learned of poverty in the world, I felt that being an artist was selfish. How could I justify something so seemingly insignificant as making pictures, when other people can’t eat or have an education? When I was 18, I saw “From Mao to Mozart,” in which the famous violinist, Isaac Stern, visited China. It took place after Mao’s reign of terror, when China first opened its doors to the west. Isaac Stern’s passion for music was clearly visible, as was his ability to share it and coax it out in others. His music became a bridge for peace. By following his passion and sharing it, he was more useful to the world than if he squelched his passion for something more seemingly practical. That became my model. Later, I found this quote from Howard Thurman that encapsulates this view: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

These are things that make me feel alive: nature, the seasons, swinging on swings (or grapevines!), biking, hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing, gardening, watching birds and whales and clouds and my dog’s ears flopping as he walks in front of me, my supportive family, free-thinking people with open hearts, belonging to vibrant communities like Waldorf and Suzuki, yoga, meditation, books, music, cultures, learning about people who buck norms and pioneer their lives being true to an inner wisdom, swimming in the stream of ever-flowing love and funneling those feelings into my life and my art and the world.

Where have all these influences taken me? From working in a library, to waitressing, music-making, organic farm work, teaching, mural-making, becoming a partner in a local artists boutique, meeting my husband, travelling in Mexico, getting married, and having two sons. Today my husband and I have our own company called Planet Love in which we hand print clothing and sell it at art and music festivals, shops and online. We live in the hills south of Buffalo with a furry, black, thick-tailed, big-hearted dog.

Thank you for a heart open to read this. May you gravitate to the things that make you feel alive!”

The Boy Who Grew A Forest

Written by: Sophia Gholz

Illustrated by: Kayla Harren

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Nature, Historical Figure, Trailblazer, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, India, Natural World, Growing Up, Hard Work, Community Involvement, Independent Thought. 

Summary: The next intention we are taking into 2020 is Environmental Conscientiousness.  We’re always looking for ways to reduce our single-use plastics, recycle more efficiently, and take public transportation or walk most places. But another thing everyone can be more conscious about is planting trees and supporting the initiatives that do.  Although we believe that too much onus is put on the individual while global corporations are not always held accountable, but we are stewards of the land we inhabit and should be working with it rather than controlling or continuing to colonize it.

This book is lovely, and based on a true story!  Jadav Payeng was a boy who lived in India and noticed that when trees were getting cut down, it was impacting the animals that lived around the village.  He went to the elders and they gifted him with some bamboo to plant, so he could begin to rehabilitate the land.  Jadav worked very hard watering and caring for the bamboo and it grew into a thicket.  Jadav wanted to provide better soil for the bamboo so he began to dig up worms and bugs in addition to the water he hauled, and bring different types of seeds.  After years of hard work, animals returned because Jadav had grown a forest where there was once barren wasteland.

This book is inspirational because it’s not only based on a true story, but Jadav is still alive and currently planting on his second island!  We think the book would be improved with some real photos of Jadav and his forest, to help younger readers understand that he is still doing this important work for the earth.  Definitely a future classic and important story to be told, it reinforces that hard work might take years but the impact is great enough that we should all start as soon as possible!

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as part of the Best Books of 2019 List but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Sophia Gholz 2Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, music lover, magic seeker, and avid reader.  As a child, Sophia was a passionate reader and artist. When not reading or drawing, she could be found at the farm riding horses or out causing mischief with her brothers.  As an adult, Sophia is still an avid reader, art fanatic, and mischief-maker. When she’s not writing, you can find Sophia on Twitter, in her cave (aka office) or running around after the kids, dogs or any combination of the two.  Sophia grew up in Florida, went to art school in California, and met her husband in Manhattan. She’s now enjoying life by the beach with her family. 

website+headshotKayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City with a BFA in illustration.  Books she has illustrated include A BOY LIKE YOU (winner of the 2019 EUREKA gold award) and THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST (winner of the EUREKA silver award.) Kayla’s work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and she’s won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award.

Kayla loves animals, playing volleyball, hiking, and eating cookies with frosting. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Peter Harren, and their adorable dogs.