Tag Archives: Environmental Activism

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!

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.

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.”