Tag Archives: environment

Obsessive About Octopuses [released 4/7]

Written & Illustrated by: Owen Davey

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Ocean Creatures, Octopuses, Nature, Natural World, Conservation.

Summary: 

Folx, I’m not sure that I can adequately express how excited I am for this particular book to come out.  If you’ve been following our book reviews for a bit (which first of all, THANK YOU!) you will know what fans we are of this entire series by Owen Davey.  I honestly can’t choose my favorite one, and let’s be real it varies by the day and if I’ve seen a cool bug recently.  But this, THIS one…might be the best.  I know, big statement.  Let’s discuss!

I LOVE octopuses, and the ocean in general.  I have a half sleeve tattoo of the ocean, including several creatures (that all have names) but the first critter I got tattooed was an orange octopus named Hector.  Needless to say, I’m stoked to learn even more about this incredible animal that makes its home in all depths of the ocean. In this book is a plethora of information about intelligence, their diets, mimicry, and conservation.  I’m obsessed with the bright graphics and have been known to read it out loud to people at home (whether they were in the mood for a story or not) while excitedly pointing at illustrations.  Seriously, get your hands on a copy of this immediately and let’s talk.

This book was sent to us by Flying Eye, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

owen-2-2Owen Davey is an award-winning Illustrator, living & working in Leicester, UK. He has a First Class BA(Hons) Degree in Illustration from Falmouth University. Davey is a primary Illustrator for TwoDotswhich has been #1 in over 70 countries, as well as the illustrator of iPad App of the Year 2015 game, The Robot Factory.  His work has been published in every continent except Antarctica, including picture books in UK, America, Australia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Portugal, China, Sweden, Russia & South Korea!

Enough! 20 Protestors Who Changed America

Written by: Emily Easton

Illustrated by: Ziyue Chen

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: American History, Activism, Historical Figures, Courage, Segregation, Enslavement, Sports, Environmentalism. 

Summary: 

This book opens with an Author’s Note talking about her inspiration to write the book.  Emily’s young cousins had been in a school shooting a few weeks before the devastating event in Parkland, Florida.  Her family was physically fine, and they were empowered to do more.  One of them, Ryan (not the Parkland survivor Ryan, who wrote the Forward), helped to organize the March For Our Lives and their older brother took some time from college to help organize further events and demonstrations.  Emily Easton decided to write a book that described the actions of 20 Americans and their protests to create ripples of change.  In the back, there is also more historical information and dates related to each of the protestors.

The book itself is very easy to read, each page having a single line devoted to the protestor.  They are fairly well-known historical figures like Samuel Adams and Susan B. Anthony that children will eventually learn about in school, but probably won’t learn about their activist side.  I can describe the book as very entry-level, with the first half of it featuring well-known heavy hitters like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges.  Rachel Carson is mentioned, which I loved, I don’t think she gets enough attention.  I was also pleased to see Gilbert Baker, creator of the first Pride flag, and Colin Kaepernick as well.

We personally would have left off Samuel Adams (dressing up like Mohawk people before throwing out crates of tea is not so much a protest in our eyes, and more like a scapegoating) but seeing as how children in the majority of public schools will be learning about these figures, they should learn about this activist history at the same time.  However, I do like that this story can be an easy access point into learning whole histories about these American figures and how they fought back against injustice.  Social movements and activism is an important aspect of American history, and students should feel empowered to stand up for marginalized populations and learn about how they can become involved in social justice causes that they care about.  This is a valuable book, because it is a perfect entry point for someone just beginning their journey into the world of social justice and activism.

This book was sent to us by our friends at Random House Children’s Books, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

emily-eastonEmily Easton was the Publishing Director of the Walker Books for Young Readers imprint at Bloomsbury Publishing, until the imprint closed.  Now, she is the Vice President of Crown Books for Young Readers! Emily has diverse editorial taste, editing everything from board books to teen books, from fiction to nonfiction.  She has published numerous bestsellers and award winners, including the Caldecott Honor Book Gone Wild by David McLimans, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans in World War II by Martin W. Sandler, the Pura Belpre Illustration Award-winner Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez, and the New York Times bestselling “Perfect Chemistry” trilogy by Simone Elkeles.

81Ya0axP-fL._US230_From illustrator Ziyue Chen’s website: “Hi! My name is Ziyue, pronounced as Zzz yuair or you can call me Angeline. I’m a Singapore based Illustrator and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. I love drawing and visualizing stories through illustrations. I work on mostly Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print.

My life goal has been to have an emotional connection with those who view my work. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, sketching, swimming and spending time with my loved ones. Mixed nuts, goji berries and avocado milkshake are my favourite snack. Yum.”

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!

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

Written by: Andrea Beaty

Illustrated by: David Roberts

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English, minor Spanish. 

Topics Covered: Community Action, Environmentalism, Girls Outdoors, Creativity, Feminism, Girls in Leadership, Latinx, Activism. 

Summary: 

Sofia Valdez loves her community, and she especially loves helping her community be better.  When her Abuelo injures his ankle slipping on trash and can’t walk Sofia to school anymore, she decides to do something about it and open a park for the neighborhood to enjoy.

We love that this book addresses fear that Sofia has about speaking in front of adults alone, when she’s a second grader.  But she believes in her cause and summons the courage despite being scared.  We really love this series, and in particular this book has very diverse illustrations.  The mayor is a person of color in a wheelchair, someone on the city committee is wearing all pink with fancy painted nails and a beard, another individual has a cochlear implant.  One of Sofia’s classmates is shown picketing and wearing a patka!  These illustrations are normalizing so many different ways of moving throughout the world, and they’re gorgeous.  Different body types are represented, and it doesn’t feel othering or tokenizing to have these diverse cast of characters living in Sofia’s neighborhood.  Ada, Iggy, and Rosie even make an appearance!  Overall, we’re so pleased to see where this book series is headed, and excited to see what comes next!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

andrea-beaty-photoAndrea Beaty was raised in southern Illinois in a town so small she knew everybody and their pets. And they all knew her. Andrea was one of six kids and we spent our summer days traipsing through the fields and forests hunting for adventure.  Always, it was fun and often, they laughed so hard they blew Orange Crush or Grape Nehi Soda out their noses. She still avoids Grape Nehi … just in case.

Andrea was a big reader as a kid and LOVED Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon Mysteries.  Then she moved on to Agatha Christie books and then the classics.  Don’t tell anyone, but her secret ambition is to star in a Broadway musical and Andrea is often tempted to break into song and dance at very odd moments. Mostly in the frozen food section of her grocery store!  They have very good lighting.

Andrea attended Southern Illinois University and studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, she worked for a computer software company. Andrea helped people with their computer problems (“Did you try turning it off and on again?”) and some technical writing. Andrea didn’t know at the time, but tech writing was great training for writing for kids because it taught her to be a fierce self-editor.

Now, she lives in Chicago with her family. Andrea visits lots of schools each year to share her love of reading and her writing journey with kids and educators.

davidroberts_website-2When David Roberts was at school, he claims he wasn’t very good at anything so the teacher would give me projects to produce big pictures for the school hall. He remembers doing one of Death rowing in a boat on the river Thames with a dead dog floating past!

David has always been drawing ever since he was a very small child and then when he left school at 16, he went to Art College. There, David did a foundation course trying out all different types of art practice. The thing David thought he wanted to do the most was costume and fashion design so he did a degree in fashion design.

David ended up being a children’s book illustrator and it was always his dream to do this! Although David tried to pursue a career as a fashion illustrator first. When he met Christine of Artist Partners she pointed out to him that he was drawing characters and perhaps he should focus more on publishing and in particular children’s books.

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.

Bird Count

Written by: Susan Edwards Richmond

Illustrated by: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, STEM, Birds, Girls Outdoors, POC-Centric Narratives, Environmental Activism, Culture & Traditions, Friendship, Community Involvement.

Summary: We love this book for so many reasons!  The plot follows a real-life bird counting event that takes place all over the USA on Christmas Day.  Citizen Scientists count birds in their local area and report back what they’re found to team leads.  This helps get an accurate representation of bird populations in different areas.  The story follows Ava and her mother as they travel around their community with a friend named Big Al.

It’s really great to see the representation of girls outdoors, specifically a family of color!  Especially in the States, where we are inundated with Christmas (consumerism, religion, decor) it’s refreshing to have a book that briefly mentions the day that the Bird Count takes place, but there is no emphasis on the holiday itself.  There are plenty of people who don’t celebrate it, and having this option to be outdoors and help scientists count birds is a really fun alternative.  On each page as well, Ava keeps track of the birds she counts.  This helps introduce math and keeping a tally of objects counted to readers.  Throughout the book there are tips and descriptions of the birds, helping the reader become more familiar as well.  In the back there is a list of the birds featured in the book and an author’s note with more information about the Audubon Society’s annual bird count so you can be a Citizen Scientist too! Overall, we really enjoyed the book and are excited to be able to participate in our own Bird Count on day.

This book was sent to us by Peachtree as part of the Best Books of 2019 project.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

WP_000308Susan Edwards Richmond is the author of the children’s picture book, Bird Count (Peachtree) about a child who becomes a Citizen Scientist for a day in her town’s Christmas Bird Count.  A passionate birder and naturalist, Susan teaches preschool on a farm and wildlife sanctuary in eastern Massachusetts.  She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and is an award-winning poet with five collections of nature-based poetry for adults, including Before We Were Birds (Adastra Press) and Birding in Winter (Finishing Line Press). She is happiest exploring natural habitats with her husband and two daughters, and learns the native birds wherever she travels. Check out her website for a great Q&A!

bunny+7Stephanie Fizer Coleman is the illustrator for Bird Count.  Here is a blurb from her website to learn a little bit more about her!

“I’m an illustrator, designer and generally curious girl living in lovely but misunderstood West Virgina. I was lucky to grow up in a rural area, with a babbling brook and lush forest just a few feet from my back door; I find that the love of nature I developed as a child still influences my work today.

After seriously studying ballet and getting my BA in History, I found my true passion in illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2008.

I work in Photoshop and Procreate and have developed a style of working that blends both digital and traditional elements.  I enjoy playing around with patterns, textures and brilliant colors in my work.  Animals are my favorite subjects to illustrate and I’m thrilled to be illustrating the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a little library-goer.

My client list includes Caterpillar Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Clarion Books, HarperCollins, Charlesbridge, Peachtree, Highlights, Mudpuppy, Sellers Publishing, Millbrook Press, Design House Greetings, and Walker Books.

When I’m not tucked away in my studio working on a book, you’ll find me tending my vegetable garden, experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, or curled up with a book and a hot cup of tea.”

The Secret of Black Rock

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Friendship, Independence, Adventure, Love, Family, Natural World, Conservation, Environmental Activism.

Summary: Erin and her mum live in a fishing village, where her mother owns her own fishing boat.  Erin longs to go with her mother while she fishes, because she wants to get closer to the spiky Black Rock that has a history of smashing boats.  She tries repeatedly to sneak on the boat but her dog Archie always sniffs her out.  When she does finally make it one day, she falls off the boat unexpectedly and finds out that Black Rock is actually alive! Not only is it not just a rock, but lots and lots of oceanic critters call Black Rock home.  When villagers want to destroy Black Rock, it’s up to Erin to save both the Rock and the animals!  No one listens to Erin that Black Rock isn’t a monster, so she sets off to stop them.

This book has several great messages within the covers.  First, how cool is it that Erins mother is a fisherwoman with her own boat?? Such a small and awesome way to subvert gender stereotyping.  Second is the message of environmental conservation and bravely standing up for what you believe in.  Erin feels passionately about saving Black Rock and all of the critters that call it home, and she’s not afraid to take direct action.

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.