Tag Archives: environment

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.

Q&A with Ants on a Log

Ants on a Log

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Julie (left) and Anya (right) together make up the band Ants on a Log

You all learned about the album Curious yesterday, so now it’s time to learn a little bit more about the minds behind Ants on a Log!  Julie and Anya have a multitude of activities, interests, and creative passions.  We feel lucky to have been able to catch up with them and bring you this short and sweet Q&A!  The only thing we need more information about is Harpo the dog (our people have called Harpo’s people and we are eagerly awaiting an interview 😉 ) Enjoy, lovely humans!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!

Ants on a Log: Ants on a Log is Julie (they/them) and Anya (she/her). We play fun, harmony-driven, socially conscious music for children and families in Philadelphia and beyond. When we’re not on stage, Julie is a music therapist and assistant director at Camp Aranu’tiq, and Anya is an elementary school science teacher.

TTA: What are you passionate about?images

AoaL: Songwriting, trees, communal living, housing equity, learning about human behavior, teaching, eradicating plastic water bottles, Harpo the dog, our next big musical journey. We are also passionate (and sometimes exhausted) about feminism and gender
freedom, and how we can influence a next generation of people who are kind and
curious.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!

UnknownAoaL: We just released the soundtrack to our musical, “Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!” which feels like both the end and the beginning of a journey. “Curious” is an
eco-feminist musical about a young girl and her non-binary sibling who work together to organize their community in fighting for clean air and renewable energy. The siblings
persevere in the face of distracted politicians, greedy businessmen, and even their mansplaining Uncle Steve. Hope and community prevail, aided by humor, scientific
research, a dancing pencil, and songful neighbors. We will perform “Curious” a few more times in 2020 and then we’ll start on a new album and perhaps even a new musical!

TTA:  How can people support you on your journey?

51YHFwxluoL._SY355_AoaL: What a lovely question, thank you! Listening to our music and giving our CDs as gifts is the best. Sharing our music videos is great too. And for those who really want to help us sustain our work as socially conscious musicians for kids, supporting us on Patreon is very helpful. We have recently been on a mission to reach audiences beyond Philly, and we’ve learned that each follower on FB, Instagram, etc. really does make a difference.  Beyond the music, you can support our mission by learning to use non-binary pronouns, using less plastic, and figuring out how to confront that mansplainer in your life (we hope our song “Air and Space” is of use to you in this area). Thanks for supporting in any and all of the above ways!

TTA:  What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?A1Tt4ZgmO+L

AoaL: Anya loved Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (adult).
Julie loved Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love. (Pre-K–2).

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AoaL: We have been blown away by the youth-led climate change movement. We can’t wait to see how Greta Thunberg continues to change the world and make waves. Can she please be President of the World?

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Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!- by Ants on a Log

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Scene from the musical Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline

For ages: any age

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Politics, Music, Health, Activism, Community Organization, Curiosity.

Summary: Have you ever felt that you were too small to get something done? That no one will listen to you if you dare to raise your voice? The answers to these questions form the backbone of the “eco-feminist musical” Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline. Created by Ants on a Log, “two Philadelphia musician-educator-activists” Julie Beth and Anya Rose, Curious charms from the first song, and follows a chronological story. Siblings Taylor and Clio find out that an oil refinery wants to expand and build in their neighborhood.  After doing some digging around, the pair decide that they have to fix the problem. But will anyone listen?

A narrator and varied cast of characters and voices tell the tale of active resistance and resilience, and we here at TTA think it’s best when listened to in order, but if you only have time to listen to a few songs, standout tracks include “Research” an ode to serious study that had both Corrie and I guffawing with it’s accurate retelling of a conversation that occurs often at our house, when all I have to add to the discussion is the fact that “I’m hungry.” Air and Space” is another excellent song that will make anyone who has ever experienced “mansplaining” laugh and roll their eyes.

There are many important topics covered within the music, and they all meld together into a collection of scientifically correct, real life experiences that is easy to follow and incredibly current with its concepts. Anya Rose and Julie Beth draw you in with their harmonies and don’t let go until the end of the story. The themes of community organization, health and environmental justice could feel weighty or awkward in less thoughtful hands, but the Ants buoy the material with Peter Rose’s dry Narrator guiding the listener through the narrative.

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Image Credit: teachsmarter.com

A focus on growth mindset is a massive trend in early childhood education, and Curious echoes this with songs and lyrics about resilience and not giving up. Clio and Taylor travel from researching and doubting themselves to believing that they do have the right idea, and this character development doesn’t happen overnight. The siblings have to fail and feel dejected before they can finally speak their truth, and these lessons are threaded throughout the album. When letter writing reveals that “The Man in Charge (Is Useless)”, Taylor and Clio think on their feet and figure out a louder way to speak their truth.

 

 

About the Artists:

img-1672_origAnts on a Log is Julie Beth (they/them) and Anya Rose (she/her). The folksy duo writes music for children and other childlike people, songfully advocating for positivity, social justice, and silliness! The Ants have been featured on XPN’s Kids Corner, at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, and on radio stations around the globe. In 2016 the Ants debuted their musical, “Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline!” The show harnesses the power of eco-feminist music and humor to encourage families to stay “curious” about alternatives to fossil fuels.

Dylan, age 8
Fanart from Dylan, age 8

In their off-stage lives, Julie is a music therapist and Anya is an elementary science teacher. Their powers combined make for smart and socially conscious folk, mostly originals with some must-know classics. Their harmonies and rhythmic play are a delight for children (and grown children!) of all ages.

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Wilma’s Way Home, The Life of Wilma Mankiller

Written by: Doreen Rappaport

Illustrated by: Linda Kukuk

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Cherokee Nation, Trailblazer, Feminism, Activism, Politics, Historical Figure, Historic Events, Family, Women in Government, Women in Leadership, Community.

Summary: This is a story about the amazing life of Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee woman and first chief of their tribal nation.  This book is unique in that on each page there are quotes by Mankiller that reinforce the information written on the page by the author.  These quotes are bold and bright green, making it easy to see and hear Wilma’s voice within the story. Wilma was born in Oklahoma and lived there for her childhood until the government mandated that indigenous people be relocated, and her family was sent to San Francisco.  She married at 18, had two daughters, and continued to invest her time and energy into bettering life for her Cherokee community.  She struggled to reconnect to her Cherokee heritage, and began visiting the Oakland Indian Center regularly.  Becoming a champion for Native activists (including her own siblings!) Wilma raised money and awareness when Indigenous activists held Alcatraz island for 19 months before being forcibly removed.  The book also details her long recovery from a car accident, and how the community rallied together to support her during those trying months of recuperation.

This book covers a huge amount of information, but it is not presented in an overwhelming way.  The life of Wilma Mankiller is fascinating, and the reader is left wanting more!  It addresses the modern atrocities that our government has continually enacted upon the Indigenous populations that live in the United States in a developmentally appropriate way but at the same time does not shy away or try to sugarcoat the emotional impact that the Cherokee community is still reeling from today.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do you think children made fun of Wilma’s last name?
  • How do you think Wilma felt when she had to justify her own interests in her Cherokee heritage?
  • What is a question you wish you could ask Wilma?
  • What do you know about holding an election or running for office?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

doreenphotosmallDoreen Rappaport is an award-winning author of 69 nonfiction books that celebrate multiculturalism, history, the lives of world leaders and the stories of those she calls ‘not-yet-celebrated.’

Her books have received critical acclaim and awards for her unique ability to combine historical facts with intimate storytelling, and for finding ‘new  ways to present the lives of well-known heroes‚’ like Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and the Statue of Liberty. –  A dynamic writer-teacher-storyteller in the classroom, she is a frequent speaker at state and national educational conferences, universities, libraries, historical societies, book fairs, and community centers.  She has been a featured author at the National Portrait Gallery, National Book Festival, the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the White House.

22711_2790141w750Linda Kukuk, a life-time resident of the Oklahoma City area, is a self-taught artist.  Since the early 1960’s she has participated in numerous art shows, specializing in scratch board art.  She and her husband have traveled extensively throughout Africa, Europe, Russia, and the South Pacific, which has given her a myriad of interesting subjects to paint and draw.

Her retirement as Chief of the Commander’s Protocol Office at Tinker AFB in March 2002, has given her more time to pursue her artistic endeavors.   Since then, she has been painting mainly in watercolor and has discovered this just may be her favorite medium. She still continues with scratchwork, but is using clayboard, which allows her to add watercolor to this traditionally “black and white” medium.   Linda enjoys painting a very wide variety of subjects and considers anything to be fair game for her paper and clayboard.

Being a native Oklahoman of rich Choctaw ancestry, and having grown up in rural Oklahoma, she especially enjoys painting Native American themes.   Her Great Grandfather, Henry Pleasant Ward, was a member of the Choctaw Nation Legislature and also became Judge of Atoka County. The Ward family consisted of a number of prosperous, well respected, leaders just previous and following Oklahoma Statehood.  They are well represented in the historical book by H.F. O’Beirne, “Leaders & Leading Men of the Indian Territory, published in 1891.

She is a Signature member of ISSA (International Society of Scratchboard Artists) Two of her scratchworks were selected for the ISSA International Show in Vancouver BC, Canada in 2013. One of her scratchworks was selected for the ISSA International Show in Tucson in 2016 and two were selected for the Show in Adelaide, Australia in 2017  She has won numerous awards and purchase awards for her paintings and scratchworks throughout her career.  Linda’s work has been in the Festival of Arts in Oklahoma City, as well as the OCCC Arts Festival Oklahoma, Downtown Edmond Art Festivals, Red Earth Art Shows, Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa and Oklahoma Art Guild National Shows – all juried shows.   She participates, annually, in the OWA-Chito Festival of the Forest Art Show, which is a regional show including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Missouri.

Linda is sought after, by various art associations and clubs throughout the country, to demonstrate her scratchboard techniques and watercolor on clayboard.  She loves the opportunity to show other artists what she has learned through the years.

She is represented by The Howell Gallery in Nichols Hills, Red Earth Gallery in Oklahoma City, and Tatiana Art Studio in Moscow, Russia. Many of her scratchworks and paintings are on display in public facilities, such as the Metropolitan Library, Red Earth Gallery permanent collection, Dean A. McGee Eye Institute and Choctaw Nation Clinic, Clinic Administrative Offices, Headquarters Buildings in Durant, Oklahoma  and Behavioral Health Clinic in Talihina, Oklahoma.

Linda is presently doing work for Disney Publishing, illustrating a children’s book on Chief Wilma Mankiller’s life, which is scheduled to be released in February 2019.

 “International Artist” magazine selected one of Linda’s paintings to be featured in one of their books.  The title of the book is “How Did You Paint That? 100 Ways to Paint Still Life’s and Florals Vol. II.” “International Artist Magazine” featured Linda and one of her scratchworks in their October/November 2014 issue.  She was also featured in “International Artist Magazine” Master Painters of the World, USA in the June-July 2017 issue.

In addition to art, Linda enjoys photography, travel, gardening, cooking, and holds an Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator’s license.  Believing God has given her a wonderful gift, she also enjoys sharing her artistic talent to support numerous charitable events each year.

Tiger Boy

Written by: Mitali Perkins

For ages: YA Book

Language: English, some Bangla.

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Bangladeshi Culture & Traditions, Environmental Activism, Education, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: The span of the plot in this story is only a few days, but the growth of the main character Neel seems much bigger than that.  Neel is a gifted student and has been given the opportunity to take a huge exam in attempt to win a scholarship for a school a few hours from his small island village.  Neel is resistant, because he doesn’t like math.  He also wants to stay in his village and learn to live off the land and carpentry skills like his father.  Neel’s father currently works for a rich but mean man named Gupta.  When a baby tiger escapes from the local nature reserve, Neel and his friends learn that Gupta plans to catch the cub and sell it on the black market.  Neel and his sister Rupa decide they must catch the cub and return it, because they have learned from their father to honor and protect nature.  During their nighttime searches, Neel also learns the value of the math he doesn’t want to study for when he draws a map of the island to look for hiding spots that the tiger might be living in.  The plot is driven by the fact that Neel and Rupa’s father is being paid by Gupta to hunt for the cub, because he wants to pay for a tutor for Neel.  Upon discovering the cub in a cave, Neel and Rupa race to the shore where there are small boats they can row over to return the cub.  We won’t spoil the end of the book, but Neel learns that he must leave his small village for a short amount of time in order to be able to return, armed with the knowledge to keep his village’s flora and fauna healthy and safe.  Great read!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

largeMitali Perkins has written twelve books for young readers, including Between Us and AbuelaForward Me Back To You,You Bring the Distant Near, and Rickshaw Girl, all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.