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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Environment, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 158
1. Trace Balla’s Time to Shine

Up-and-comer author illustrator, Trace Balla, has quickly hit the scene with the recent success of ‘Rivertime‘, being both shortlisted in the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Awards, and winning this year’s Readings Children’s Book Prize. Her work stems from a background in art therapy, animations and community involvement, with […]

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2. Receiving “Laudato Si”: will Pope Francis be heard?

Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si, will be surrounded for some time by intense debate among and between journalists, columnists, Catholic journals, political leaders, and environmentally-focused scientists and NGOs. In other words, the fight over how it’s received is well underway. In the 125 years or so that papal social encyclicals have been written, their reception has been hotly debated, with the most infamous such episode occurring in the pages of the National Review.

The post Receiving “Laudato Si”: will Pope Francis be heard? appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Five ways nature can improve our health

How does nature benefit our health? Many of us intuitively know that we simply feel better after ‘stepping out for some fresh air.’ Now over 30 years of research has begun to reveal exactly what health benefits we get from nature. Here are five reasons why we need to make space and time for nature in our lives.

The post Five ways nature can improve our health appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Student Book Review: Seeds of Change

In this guest post, Ruben Brosbe’s third-grade students from P.S. 368, Guest BloggerThe Hamilton Heights School in New York, NY demonstrate their critical thinking skills and share their reviews of the book Seeds of Change, a picture-book biography of the first African woman-and first environmentalist- to win a Noble Peace Prize (in 2004), on their class blog We Read Diverse Books. As a teacher, Ruben was inspired by the WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to make his read alouds represent the diversity in his classroom and the broader community.

“To begin the school year, I shared the campaign with my students and asked them if they would take part by reviewing books with diverse characters. Since then we’ve talked about about diversity in kids’ books and our blog is a way of sharing stories we love that feature diverse characters. It is also my hope that it can serve as a resource for teachers like me who are looking for great stories to share with their students.”

Do you like books about people who work hard? If you do you willmain_large love Seeds of Change. I would recommend this book to a friend because some people like to grow trees. The main idea of the book is planting trees because people were cutting them down. My favorite part in Seeds of Change is when Wangari planted 30,000,000 trees. Another book that is similar is Grace for President. How they’re similar is Wangari is a change maker and Grace is a change maker because Wangari planted 30,000,000 trees and Grace was the first lady president. In conclusion that’s why you would love Seeds of Change.
Kasime

The main idea of Seeds of Change is when Wangari moved to a
different city and cared about her environment. Another main idea is she cared about women fairness. I recommend you read this book because it teaches you not to cut down trees. Another reason not to cut down trees is to do nice things for the trees. My favorite part of Seeds of Change is when all the women planted 30 million trees. Wangari is a hero because she saved the plants and wasn’t afraid to do the work.
Lester

I would recommend this book to a friend because if someone in my class would like to plant. Also it is about how trees are so important. The main idea is that she was moving. Wangari was being a hard worker and helping nature. My favorite part was when she went back and planted a lot of trees. I think that Wangari is a brave person. Also she is a hero because in the book she was brave to plant all of the trees to help nature. She dug in the dirt planting seedlings and shared ideas with people.
Melina

Hey do you like people who don’t give up? If you do then you will WANGARIlike Seeds of Change! I would recommend this book to a friend, because maybe somebody likes seeds and likes science. And also somebody can learn how important is trees. The main idea of this book is that trees give us life and also that you should not cut down trees because then it looks like a bad place and when you grow trees it looks like a good place. My favorite part of the book was when Wangari planted 30,000,000 trees. I think Wangari is a brave person, because they cut down trees and she still made trees. One other book that is similar is Grace for President. This is why I recommend you to read Seeds of Change.
Octavio

My favorite part of Seeds of Change is when Wangari stopped the men from cutting down the trees and also from the men making plantations. Wangari was a brave person because she went to 3 places and got women to care about trees. If I were going to introduce Wangari I would tell my family what made her brave.
-Anthony

You should read Seeds of Change. I would recommend this book to a friend because the lesson of the book is to not cut down trees because it hurts nature. The main idea of the book is that Wangari helps her country. My favorite part of the book is that Wangari plants over 30,000,000 trees and when Wangari went to school, because she gets friends to be with. In conclusion, that is why you should read Seeds of Change.
Randy

Hey you there have you heard of Seeds of Change? It’s a great book!! My favorite part is when she got in jail. And then got out. And planted more trees and made the forest green. Also my favorite part is when she saved the trees. I recommend this book to a friend because I think this book can teach my friends how to take care of our world. The main idea is that Wangari saved the trees. Also Wangari went to school and it was not common for girls to go to school. I think “seeds of change” is when Wangari used seeds to change.
Phoenix-I think that Wangari is a brave person.

I would recommend this book to a friend because it’s amazing and it has an important lesson. The main idea of the book is that women can do anything they set their mind to. Also, about how trees are important to the world. My favorite part of the book was when Wangari and the other women planted trees. I think Wangari is a hero, because she helped her environment to be a better and great place. When Wangari says “Young people, you are our hope and our future” she means that kids shoudl plant a garden and help our community.
Karen

I would recommend this to a friend because if my friends like seeds they’ll probably give the book to my friends and I like planting seeds. The main idea of this book is not to cut down trees and let women have equal rights and to let women do anything but not anything bad and another thing that was the main idea was help people with anything.  My favorite part of the book was when Wangari planted 30 million trees it was really helpful to the world. I think Wangari is a brave person because when people said stop doing this she ignored them and she is also brave because she went to jail but people said let her free! So they did. I think the purpose of this book is not to cut down trees and to is help to the world. In closing this was about keeping the world green.
Carlos

*all posts edited slightly for spelling and punctuation by Mr. Ruben

To find resources for teaching or reading Seeds of Change, visit the book page here.

Blogging with Students:

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5. Slow Books

A note from Candy: I was truly wowed by the last book I read by Nicky Singer  -  Knight Crew, a retelling of the Arthur-Guinevere romance set in a gritty council estate and populated by heart-breaking teenagers. When Knight Crew came out, Nicky actively urged readers not to buy the book from Amazon. Last week I stumbled on Nicky's Kickstarter campaign to publish her play, Island, as a novel. I

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6. Pack out your trash!

This box is full of trash, not crackers. True story.

This box is full of trash, not crackers. True story.

I’m going to make a movie reference. It’s a bad one. Ready?

In Star Trek VI, Kirk, Spock and Bones are camping in Yosemite on shore leave. In the morning, they’re called back to the ship suddenly, cutting their (weird) joint vacation short, and Kirk sighs, “Pack out your trash.”

Pack out your trash.

So now I not only just outed myself as a Trekkie, but as a person who gets geeked out at environmental catch phrases. Oh, shut up. You love that crying Indian.

I’m not embarrassed (well, maybe a little – I think only seventeen people have even seen that movie, much less quoted from it). As an environmentalist, I love this phrase. I was taught at an early age to take my trash with me, to throw it away in a bin instead of littering. Most people are, I believe. It was sandwiched between “Wash your hands before dinner” and “Stop licking the dog!”

But I also believe there’s more to it than just not littering. Not littering is admirable, but I believe we need to think further.

I like to think that when we visit a place, we should leave it better than we found it. Not just Yosemite or the beach, I mean places like airports, malls, Disneyland, Starbucks. Sure, people get paid to clean up our messes. That’s one way to think of it. “Let someone else take care of it,” we tell ourselves. After all, we’re busy, We are Important. We don’t get paid to pick up trash. I mean, aren’t there, like, workers for that?

There’s no immediate reward for this. It’s, just like, work, Dude. Yeah, I know. You’re thinking, Who needs more work? And who needs this kind of guilt? I already struggle with that whole should-I give-that-homeless-lady-a-dollar thing. Now this?

Well, poor you. So much to think about. You can’t keep up! Who will take over for Letterman? Does Khloe Kardashian wear Spanx? Does my Uber driver know I’m completely shit-faced?*

Get over yourself. Pick up some goddamn trash for a change. Get off your ass and make a difference for once. Not because it’s better for the planet and society. Do it because I said so.

*Yes, your driver can smell you.

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7. A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

A Nest is Noisy Written by Dianna Hutts Aston; Illustrations by Sylvia Long Chronicle Books. 2015 ISBN: 9781452127132 Preschool on up I received a copy of this book from the publisher. They’ve done it again!  The award-winning duo, Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long, have added a fifth title to their informational science picture book series. (An Egg is Quiet, A Seed is Sleepy, A

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8. Happy Earth Day

EarthdayDid you know that the first Earth Day was on April 20, 1970?

Started by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and his small staff, the first Earth Day saw 20 million participants and has grown every year. Initially started as a day to teach the public about the condition of our environment, today this environmental movement is credited with starting the EPA, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and Water Quality Improvement Act.

Forty-five years later our environmental awareness has improved and people of all ages celebrate Earth Day. Find events near you and celebration ideas on EarthDay.org!

At Arbordale, we are also passionate about the fate of the planet and our way of helping the environmental movement is to educate young children about the world around us and those living in it. Many of our books feature endangered animals or vulnerable environmental elements. In celebration of Earth Day here are three books to get a conversation started with your little ones about the environment!

Nature Recycles: How About You?
By Michele Lord, illustrated by Cathy Morrison
NatureRecycles_187
From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals all over the world recycle. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves and get food. This fascinating collection of animal facts will teach readers about the importance of recycling and inspire them to take part in protecting and conserving the environment by recycling in their own way.

The Glaciers are Melting!
By Donna Love, illustrated by Shennen Bersani
glaciers coverChicken Little may have thought the sky was falling but Peter Pika is sure the glaciers are melting and is off to talk to the Mountain Monarch about it. Joined along the way by friends Tammy Ptarmigan, Sally Squirrel, Mandy Marmot, and Harry Hare, they all wonder what will happen to them if the glaciers melt. Where will they live, how will they survive? When Wiley Wolverine tries to trick them, can the Mountain Monarch save them? More importantly, can the Mountain Monarch stop the glaciers from melting?

Felina’s New Home: A Florida Panther Story
by Loran Wlodarski illustrated by Lew Clayton
Felina's New HomeFelina the Florida panther loved growing up in her forest home, until the forest starts to shrink! Trees begin to disappear, and Felina doesn’t understand the new busy highway in the neighborhood. Other animals are in danger, too. Will Felina find a way to survive as humans threaten to ruin her home? Environmental science writer Loran Wlodarski gives children a look into deforestation and endangered animals in Felina’s New Home: A Florida Panther Story, complemented by the detailed, emotive illustrations of Lew Clayton. Learn whether the animals in Felina’s forest adapt to the new human presence and what children can do to keep wild animals safe, happy, and healthy.


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9. Food security in the twenty-first century

There are currently about 7 billion people on Earth and by the middle of this century the number will most likely be between 9 and 10 billion. A greater proportion of these people will in real terms be wealthier than they are today and will demand a varied diet requiring greater resources in its production. Increasing demand for food will coincide with supply-side pressures: greater competition for water, land, and energy, and the accelerating effects of climate change.

The post Food security in the twenty-first century appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Reading for the Earth: Ultimate Earth Day Resource Roundup

Earth Day, April 22nd is right around the corner, and we at Lee & Low are some pretty big fans of this blue planet we live on. So, whether you choose to plant a tree or pledge to better uphold the 3 R’s -reduce, reuse, recycle- we are celebrating and promoting awareness the best way we know how- with books!

Here are 5 environmentally friendly collections to bring nature READING FOR 1 yellowindoors & encourage “thinking green”:

Save the Planet: Environmental Action Earth Day Collection: Be inspired to be an advocate for planet Earth through the true stories of threatened ecosystems, environmental recovery efforts and restorations plans, and heroic actions. Like the individuals and communities explored in these stories, children everywhere will realize the difference they can make in protecting our planet and preserving its natural resources.

Earth Day Poetry Collection: Through rhythm and verse, float down the cool river, reach as high as the tallest tree, and search for all of the vibrant colors of the rainbow in the natural world. This collection of poetry books are inspired by the joy and wonder of being outdoors and brings the sight and sounds of nature and all of its wildlife to life.

Seasonal Poems Earth Day Collection: Travel through winter, spring, summer, & fall through a series of bilingual seasonal poems by renowned poet and educator, Francisco Alarcón.  Learn about family, community, and caring for each other and the natural environment we live in.

Adventures Around the World Collection: Explore Africa while traversing Botswana’s lush grasslands and Uganda’s Impenetrable Forest, celebrate the deep-seeded respect for wildlife in India, Mongolia and on an island off the coast of Iceland, and journey to Australia to explore animals found nowhere else on Earth.

Vanishing Cultures Collection: The 7-book series introduces readers to the Yanomama of the Amazon Basin, Aborigines of Australia, Sami of the European Arctic, Inuit of the North American Arctic, Tibetans and Sherpas from the Himalaya, Mongolians of Asia, and Tuareg of the Sahara.

Lesson Plans & Ideas:

What fun is Earth Day if you don’t get your hands a little dirty? Bring some of the outdoors into your classroom-or vice versa- by engaging students in various hands-on and project-based Earth Day lessons and activities:

Earth Day Curriculum Resources, Grades K-5 from The National Earth Day BooksEducation Council. Features lesson plans, units, useful websites, games & activities, printables, and video.

Environmental Education Activities & Resources from The National Education Council. Features lesson plans, activities, projects, games, and professional development ideas.

Celebrate Earth Day! from ReadWriteThink. Features a classroom activity, 6 lesson plans for grades K-2, 6-8, and 7-9 & other Earth Day resources for kids.

Nature Works Everywhere from the Nature Conservancy. Features lessons, video, and tools to help students learn about and understand nature in various environments and ecosystems across the globe.

Check out the research-based read aloud and paired text lessons for The Mangrove Tree created by the staff at the award-winning, non-profit ReadWorks.org

Explore the educator activities for The Mangrove Tree and Buffalo Song, titles featured in RIF’s Multicultural Book Collections. To find other free activities that inspire young readers as well as learn more about Reading Is Fundamental, visit RIF.org

Activities, Projects, & Video:

Greening STEM Educator Toolkits from National Environmental Education Week. Features toolkits for activities based on water, climate, energy, and engineering a sustainable world through project-based service learning.

NOVA Earth System Science Collection from PBS LearningMedia. Standards-based video collection that explores important Earth processes and “ the intricate web of forces that sustain life on Earth.”

22 Interactive Lessons to Bring Earth Day to Life from Mind/Shift. Features informational videos, images, and other forms of multi-media highlighting research on biodegradation, climate change, waste, energy sources, and sustainable practices.

I Want to Be Recycled from Keep America Beautiful. Find out how different kinds of materials are recycled, transforming trash into new things. Students can play a super sorter game and start a recycling movement in their community.

Journey North: A Global Study of Wildlife Migration & Seasonal Change from Learner.org. Track various migratory species with classrooms across the world.

The Global Water Sampling Project from the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE). Students from all over the world collaborate to compare the water quality of various fresh water sources.

Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Learn how to begin a waste reduction program in your school or community with helpful guides and resource tool kits.

Wildlife Watch from the National Wildlife Federation. Learn about and monitor the wildlife where you live, helping track the health and behavior of wildlife and plant species across the nation.

What’s Your DOT (Do One Thing)? from the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE). Pledge your DOT (Do One Thing) to take action and inspire others to make a difference.

Plant a Poem, Plant a Flower from the blog Sturdy for Common Things. Since April celebrates both National Poetry Month & Earth Day, why not plant a little poetry in nature?

And finally… some Earth Day treats!

Earth Day Cookies from Tammilee Tips
Earth Day Cookies from Tammilee Tips at tammileetips.com

 

Earth Day Cookies

Earth Day Dirt Cup

Earth Day Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

veronicabio

Veronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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11. Earth Day: A reading list

To celebrate Earth Day on 22 April, we have created a reading list of books, journals, and online resources that explore environmental protection, environmental ethics, and other environmental sciences. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 in the United States. Since then, it has grown to include more than 192 countries and the Earth Day Network coordinate global events that demonstrate support for environmental protection. If you think we have missed any books, journals, or online resources in our reading list, please do let us know in the comments below.

The post Earth Day: A reading list appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. The Environmental Book Club

I have finally found an environmental book for older readers, and it is terrific.

Sixteen-year-old Laura, the journal keeping main character in The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd, is a member of a punk band. She has an appalling older sister, and her parents are falling apart. Sounds pretty generic YA, doesn't it? What makes this book riveting is its setting and its main character.

Are Good Environmental Books All About Setting?


The 2015 Britain of The Carbon Diaries is one suffering from energy shortages and horrific climate problems, as is the rest of the world. Britain, however, is the first country to start carbon rationing. The book is Laura's account of her family and neighbors dealing with limited access to energy while suffering through an extreme winter, a drought, and torrential rain. Her older sister is appalling because she is bitter and angry about her gap year in America being cancelled. Her parents are falling apart because they're having trouble coping with the social change they're being hammered with. Dad, for instance, is the head of a travel and tourism school. With carbon restrictions, people can't travel. That pretty much puts an end to the tourist industry in Britain, and he loses his job.

The book isn't a cautionary tale, in my humble opinion. It's much more of a thriller. What's going to happen next and how will the characters survive it? Though Laura comments on the selfishness of others a couple of times and wants very much for the rest of the world to get on board with carbon rationing, this is not a "Let's save the planet!" story. There is no instructive message.

I'm sure many reviewers probably write about The Carbon Diaries' environmental themes. I always have trouble determining what an environmental theme would be. I've seen some writers calls The Carbon Diaries' theme "climate change." That seems more like a subject to me. I would say the theme of The Carbon Diaries involves a teenager struggling to find her place as an older person in her family and her place in society, one that is dramatically changing. Those are traditional YA themes, not environmental ones. It's the environmental setting that makes those traditional YA themes interesting and makes this book environmental.

Isn't climate fiction, fiction dealing with climate change, all about setting?

A Good Character Always Does Wonders For A Book


Laura is like an edgier, smarter Georgia Nicholson. The format of the book is even similar to the Georgia Nicholson books. It's a journal, of course, and there are several pages at the end translating British terms for American readers, which you find in Georgia's books. This is not a complaint. I like Georgia. I like Laura.

A Good Book Doesn't Have To Teach You Anything

Though The Carbon Diaries doesn't insist that readers do anything, the characters' struggle was so intense that it has an impact. I hadn't read much before I started obsessing about whether or not I'd turned the heat down at night. I freaked out a bit over that power outage in Washington earlier this week. And, yikes! They're rationing water in California!! 

Very few people like to be preached at or taught. If a piece of fiction is well done, it creates a response in readers without doing either of those things.

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13. Katrina Germein Dances Up A Thunderstorm

Katrina Germein is a well-loved children’s best selling author and early childhood teacher. She has received Highly Commended and Notable Book Commendation awards in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and from the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Three of her books have also featured on the popular children’s programme, Play School.  Some of her titles […]

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14. Environmental Book Club

The Jenny Evolution has a list of Best Earth Day Picture Books For Kids. I haven't read any of these, but I haven't been able to pick up any environmental books, myself, for a while, so I'm offering these. 

I do have a couple of titles in mind for future reading.

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15. Environmental Book Club

 In What is Cli-fi? And Why I Write It in The Guardian author Sarah Golding describes climate fiction as "fiction that foregrounds climate change." Her interest in writing it appears to go beyond using it as a setting, world, or spring board for a plot. She's trying to do something specific with her cli-fi books for young readers. She hopes that her characters' concern for the environment will spread to her readers.

On a related note, you might want to take a look at The Necessary Evolution of Environmental Writing by John Yunker at the Ecolit Books blog. He writes about needing stories "that inspire lasting change and have the power to change our worldview."

So both writers are talking about using environmental fiction in a proactive way, at least, if not one that is actually instructive.


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16. The Environmental Book Club

The Scottish Book Trust posted a list entitle 8 Books About The Environment (Teens) at its site.  Included is the hardcover edition of Saving the Planet & Stuff.

One of the interesting things about these books is that the newest title, The Carbon Diaries 2015, by Saci Lloyd, was published in 2008. This is a "deep" list that doesn't just rely on scanning recent publishers' catalogs.


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17. The Environmental Book Club

No, I am not going to claim that The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is an environmental book. Though, I suppose I could. When I'm looking for environmental books, I look for experienceThe Snowy Day is all about a child's experience of winter, of a snowy day. Peter is immersed in a winter environment.

What I'm going to do, instead, is argue that environmental children's books need a The Snowy Day.

Back in 1962, The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in mainstream children's publishing. Little Peter is African-Amercan. But nowhere in this book is there anything that says, "Oh, this is an important story I'm telling here. Here is a lesson for us all--we're all alike when it snows!" Deborah Pope of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation said in a NPR interview that Peter's ethnic background "...wasn't important. It wasn't the point." She said that Keats "wasn't necessarily trying to make a statement about race when he created Peter." He was a white illustrator who had never used a child of color in his work and decided he would. The Snowy Day is the story of a kid having a good time in the snow. He just happens to be black.

So many children's environmental books are heavy with lesson. The mini-lectures undermine whatever story is there and destroy the experience of being immersed in some natural element. I'd love to see an environmental equivalent of The Snowy Day, in which child characters simply go about their business recycling or composting or living in a solar house or living as a part of some ecosystem or another without hammering readers about the significance of what they're doing.

Maybe for the time being I'll settle for The Snowy Day as an environmental book and read and watch little Peter  surround himself with winter.

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18. This Is What Is Possible (Part 4)

This girl is definitely living the spirit of Why Not Me? Love her story.

 

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19. Buried Sunlight by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm

Buried Sunlight: how fossil fuels have changed our world Written by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm; Illustrated by Molly Bang Blue Sky Press. 2014 ISBN: 9780545577854 Grades 3-12 To review this book, I borrowed it from my local public library. Author-illustrator Molly Bang has now written four books about the sun’s life-sustaining role in our world. She began with My Light that explained

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20. FOUR TITLES FROM OWLKIDS BOOKS

OwlKids Books promotes awareness of our world to encourage young readers to become more astute observers of how their choices can affect the natural world. OwlKids Books appeal to readers who enjoy bold graphics with quick facts using minimal text. Why We Live Where We Live Written by Kira Vermond; Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin ISBN: 9781771470117 Grades 4-6 Vermond takes readers on a

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21. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold Poems written by Newbery Honor Award Winner, Joyce Sidman; Illustrations by Rick Allen Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014 ISBN: 9780547906508 All ages; birth to infinity. To write this review, I borrowed a copy from my local public library. I am writing this review on the morning after a nasty snowstorm that caused massive power outages here in the

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22. Tiny Creatures: the world of microbes Written by Nicola Davies

Tiny Creatures: the world of microbes Written by Nicola Davies; Illustrated by Emily Sutton Candlewick Press. 2014 ISBN: 9780763773154 Grades K-3 To write this review, I borrowed a copy of the book from my local public library. Nicola Davies has penned some terrific science books. I really like Surprising Sharks! and Gaia Warriors. Davies excels at explaining the natural world and our

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23. Population ecologists scale up

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience, 1844.

The concept of looking at nature through multiple lenses to see different things is not new and has been long recognized. As always, the devil is in the details. Recent developments in analytical tools and the embracement of an integrative metapopulation concept and the newly emergent field of functional biogeography, are allowing exciting new insights to be made by population ecologists that have direct bearing on our understanding of the effects of environmental change on biodiversity patterns.

The metapopulation concept posits that isolated populations of organisms are connected through dynamics of dispersal and extinction. Across a landscape, areas of suitable habitat occur, which at one point in time may or may not host a viable population of a particular species.  I study this concept with terrestrial plants, and have asked what environmental conditions determine suitable habitat for metapopulations.

Much of the foundational work in this topic was conducted on butterfly populations in meadows across otherwise forested habitat. Regardless of study organism, embracement of this concept has been enough to make population ecologists realize that studying single populations may give only a limited view on generalities of ecology and evolution. Indeed, taking this concept on board, has led population ecologists to want to predict in which areas of suitable habitat across the landscape a new population may establish.

“There’s no getting away from field work!”

There are obvious conservation and management implications that result from being able to predict the geographical distribution of a species, whether an invasive exotic spreading across the globe, or an endangered organism. Unfortunately, just knowing where a species or a group of species may occur across the landscape is not enough. Individuals in some populations may have low fitness and their populations may be barely hanging on. For some species such as potential island colonizers, it has been proposed that limited ability to colonize vacant habitat patches may be due to the occurrence of closely related species occupying a similar niche.

Important ‘missing pieces’ from a full understanding of the metapopulation puzzle have been through inclusion of population growth rate estimates and incorporation of species evolutionary relationships (i.e., their phylogenic ancestry). Population ecologists have been toiling away making fitness estimates of their species of interest in the field. Systematists, on the other hand, have been grinding it out in the lab to generate the molecular data necessary to construct phylogenetic trees to help classify their species.

Larch Forest in Autumn Skarbin Laerchen Mischwald 03CC BY-SA 3.0, Johann Jaritz (own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Larch Forest in Autumn. Skarbin Laerchen Mischwald. By Johann Jaritz. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Community ecologists studying multispecies assemblages, as a third-dimensional angle to this question, have been working with geographers to develop species distribution models.  It is only recently that the analytical tools have emerged that allow these groups of scientists to collaborate and address questions of common interest about metapopulations.For example, Cory Merow and colleagues have recently shown how Bayesian models can be used to propagate uncertainty estimates in the application of integral projection models (IPMs) to forecast growth rates as part of predictive demographic distribution models (transition matrix models could also be used). In other words, species geographic distribution predictions can be improved by accounting for population-level fitness estimates.

In another study, Oluwatobi Oke and colleagues have shown how phylogenetic relationships among 66 co-occurring species in populations across a metapopulation structured landscape of Canadian barrens can improve understanding of species distribution patterns. The basis for Oke et al.’s phylogenetic patterns among their species was the large angiosperm supertree based upon nucleotide sequence data of three genes from over 500 species.

The basis for all of the work described above are precise and accurate estimates of individual fitness and population growth rates. There’s no getting away from field work! Methods for carrying out the field work component of these studies, to allow the use of modern statistical methods including Bayesian analysis, IPMs, and transition matrix models, have to be planned and carried out with care. We have come a long way in the last decade in enabling population studies to scale up to address fundamental questions at higher levels of the ecological hierarchy.

The field of population demography is moving fast. For example, the recent launch of the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database, with accurate demographic information for over 500 plant species in their natural settings worldwide, will make addressing these scale-related types of comparative evolutionary and ecological questions even more tractable in the future.

The post Population ecologists scale up appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. Environmental Book Club

The picture book Winston of Churchill: One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming by Jean Davies Okimoto with illustrations by Jeremiah Trammell teeters between being preachy and instructive and clever and witty.

Winston is a polar bear near a town named Churchill in Manitoba, Canada. He wears glasses and is always holding a lit cigar, much like another Winston named Churchill. Bear Winston is in a position of polar bear leadership, much like British Prime Minster Winston was in a position of human leadership. The polar bears are facing the melting of ice in Hudson Bay due to human pollution, much like the Brits were facing invasion by the Na...No, that's kind of a stretch. But when Bear Winston rallies his bears, he does sound a lot like British PM Winston rallying his people.  '"We will for fight ice," boomed Winston. "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender."'

That's what makes this book clever and witty, the whole whole bear-doing-Churchill thing. Because a polar bear isn't Winston Churchill, and the incongruity is funny.

But then you get to the lesson stuff. '"Ice is melting because it's getting too warm around here and people are doing it with their cars and smoke stacks. And cutting down trees."' I'm not saying that's not true, but instruction is awkward, to say the very least, in fiction. Winston of Churchill even includes a page from a book Winston of Churchill wrote on global warming to make sure to get the educational stuff across. Though I'm going to take a wild guess that I'm not the only person who skipped it.

But here's the clever and witty thing about that book written by Winston of Churchill--Winston Churchill wrote books, too!

The illustrations in this book are marvelous and very engaging, and I think kids will be attracted to the bears and some of the humor. Some will be left recalling that human actions are wrecking ice for those neat bears. It will probably be adults with some knowledge of a World War II historical figure who will enjoy this book the most.

Winston of Churchill won the Green Earth Book Award for Children's Fiction in 2008.


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25. Chernobyl's Wild Kingdom by Rebecca L. Johnson

Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: life in the Dead Zone By Rebecca L. Johnson Twenty-First Century Books. 2015 ISBN: 9781467711548 Grades 5-12 To review this book, I borrowed a copy from my local public library. On April 26, 1986, Reactor Number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded sending extremely high levels of ionizing radiation into the atmosphere that would cover the area.

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