Tag Archives: Environmental Activism

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.

What are we taking into 2020? Books for a new decade.

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!  Taking this leap into a whole new decade has got us thinking about intentions.  What can we take into the year that will help us be the best we can be?  What are the skills that will allow us to embody the characteristics of a good activist, ally, friend, and voice for change?  So, we decided on 7 of them and will be posting books that we feel portray the skills, one each day for the first week of January!  We hope they will inspire you as much as they do us, and maybe make your reading list a bit longer! We hope everyone has a safe and joyous New Year, and see you tomorrow for our first post of 2020!

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.

Survival

Written by: Anna Clayborne

Illustrated by: Louise McNaught

For ages: any age

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Global Community, Animals, Endangered Species, Sustainability, Activism, Natural World.

Summary: This book was sent to us by Running Press, but all opinions are our own!

This book is really interesting in that the book’s Artist (Louise McNaught) is featured before the book begins.  Next, there is a foreword from Tusk, a charity organization that champions for endangered wildlife.

This book is stunning.  Twenty endangered animals are featured in this large coffee table sized book.  On one side of the page is a huge portrait of the animal, painted by McNaught.  The opposite side of the page has geographical information about the animals, as well as two paragraphs about the animal.

The animal portraits are beautiful, and have unique upward-drips of paint creating a stunning artistic effect.  The information about the animals is easy to understand, and the setup of the book allows for random pages to be read during a perusal of pages rather than requiring a strict beginning to end read. Colorful backgrounds and painted maps are very enticing to a wide variety of ages.  What is most important however, is the message behind the book.  We live in a world where climate change is very real, and it threatens the existence of all species living on our planet.  This book also includes information about the history of animal conservation, and what the average person can do to assist in alleviating this growing crisis.  This is an amazingly beautiful book, with an even more beautiful message behind it.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

savingPNG 3_PNG.pngLouise McNaught completed her Fine Art Degree BSc (Hons) in 2012 at the University of Greenwich, and she has continued to work as a professional artist ever since, with international representation. She also became a published Author in 2018. Her artwork has also been featured in art fairs in Milan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Stockholm, Brussels and all over the UK.

Louise‘s creations feature nature and animals, where the animals are God-like, sublime and ethereal in their presence and depiction. McNaught’s work is motivated by emotive and spiritual experiences which has manifested in a mixed-media approach. Her soft style suggests a delicate relationship between nature and ourselves, making a clear point about man’s destruction of nature – which flutters jewel-like in the balance. When focusing on endangered species the imagery often takes on a duality of not only what is happening to the animal itself, but also reflects how we feel psychologically about the effect the human race is having on these species. Her focus on endangered species has manifested in a book called ‘Survival‘, which Louise created with worldwide publishers Big Picture Press in September 2018. The idea came from the Solo Show Louise was doing with George Thornton Gallery in 2016, also called ‘Survival’. The book shows 20 endangered animals painted by McNaught, with facts about the animals plight and conservation efforts. ‘Survival‘ is sponsored by the well-known charity Tusk.org with proceeds of the book going toward helping their cause.

claybourne_annaAnna Claybourne is the author of numerous books on the natural world for younger readers, including the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of Planet Earth, Cheetah: Natural World Series, the Survival Skills Handbook, and many more.

She started her career at Usborne Publishing in 1993 as a trainee staff writer, and became a self-employed freelance writer and editor three years later. She writes on almost any subject but specializes in science and nature, and has written many children’s books on wild animals (especially predators), volcanoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Her interest in these topics made researching and writing 100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet a particularly fascinating experience. Anna has traveled widely and in 2002, she experienced the eruption of the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica at first hand, as well as seeing some of the animals mentioned in the book.

Anna grew up in Yorkshire and studied English Literature at Oxford University and in Toronto, Canada. She began an academic career studying Anglo-Saxon literature and considered earning a PhD on the old English monster poem Beowulf, but chose to continue writing instead.

Anna currently lives in Edinburgh, with her partner and three-year-old son. Her hobbies include creative writing, sewing, and playing the trombone in a soul band.

 

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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