FEATURED: Biodiversity

  Adelina's Whales

by Richard Sobol

HARDCOVER
Animals : Mammals
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

This is a beautiful photo-essay by Richard Sobol about a 10 year old girl living in the remote fishing village of La Laguna in Baja, Mexico near a lagoon that is a gray whale nursery. Every year Adelina Mayoral eagerly awaits the arrival of her special friends, the gray whales that travel from their northern feeding grounds, as far away as Alaska and Russia, across the Pacific to this protected lagoon to give birth and raise their calves until the spring when they once again head north. The text and stunning photography, that show the close encounters and rapport of humans and whales, also offer an insight into Adelina’s daily life and the world of these unique mammals. In the "Foreword" Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. describes his visit to Laguna San Ignacio and how Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) succeeded in 1997 in saving this pristine lagoon from industrial development and keeping this area as a gray whale nursery.

For more information, visit: www.savebiogems.org/baja/

      Grades: 2nd to 5th

  Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals

by Steve Jenkins

PAPERBACK
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Written and illustrated by Caldecott winner Steve Jenkins, Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals examines twenty-one endangered animals found throughout the world, poignantly highlighting the critically low numbers that remain. Jenkins depicts these rare animals through beautiful cut and torn paper collage artwork. The informative text describes the physical, behavioral and feeding traits, their natural habitats and reasons behind the endangered status of these animals. Readers can learn that the Abington Island Tortoises of the Galapagos Islands were overhunted in the 1800’s to the extent of possibly only one tortoise remaining in the world. Jenkins also includes examples of animals that are now extinct as well as several species that through various efforts have made a comeback to healthier numbers. Describing the extinction of species, Jenkins writes that, although the consequences of the extinction of a species are not fully understood because of the complexity of the web of connections amongst living things, "we do know that something unique has been lost and can never be replaced."

The endangered animals described in this book include: monkey-eating eagle and dwarf water buffalo (Philippines); crested shelduck and baiji or Yangtze River dolphin (China); blue iguana (Grand Cayman Island); northern hairy-nosed wombat, eastern barred bandicoot, giant stick insect and waterfall or torrent frog (Australia); California condor (Southwestern U.S.); addax (Sahara Desert); hispid hare or Assam rabbit (India and Nepal); Miami blue butterfly (Florida, U.S.); Javan rhinoceros (Vietnam and Indonesia); golden lion tamarin (Brazil); Bactrian camel (Mongolia and China); coelacanth (Indian Ocean); Iriomote cat (Japan); Abington Island tortoise (Galapagos Islands); and, northern right whale (Atlantic Ocean). The extinct animals that are cited are: moa, (New Zealand), Stellar sea cow (Bering Strait), Tasmanian wolf (Australia), and Guam flying fox (Mariana Islands). Lastly, the recovering species include: gharial or Indian crocodile (Northern India), whooping crane (North America), and Alpine ibex (Europe).

See also: Alexandra Wright's Will We Miss Them? Endangered Species, and
David McLimans' Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet

        Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  And So They Build

by Bert Kitchen

PAPERBACK
Animals : Various Classes

Illustrated with exquisite, detailed paintings by the author, this book clearly details particular adaptations of amazing structures built by twelve different animals as well as distinctive aspects of the behavior of these architects. The animals described are both exotic and familiar, primarily birds and insects, but also include a harvest mouse, gladiator tree frog, stickleback fish and beavers. Most of these constructions and animal behavior are not familiar to either children or adults and will fascinate readers of all ages.

Recommended in Nature's Course (March/April 1997) published by CCEL.

      Grades: Preschool & Up

  And Then There Was One

by Margaret Facklam

PAPERBACK
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

In this interesting, informative and well-written survey, Facklam unveils the mysteries of extinction describing the reasons for the disappearance of some species as part of the natural evolutionary process and contrasting the recent increasing rate of extinction due to human intervention, ignorance and carelessness. Citing examples of the disappearance of species due to natural causes, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and, in the case of dinosaurs, possibly an asteroid collision, the author also describes natural selection and adaptations through which other species have survived for millions of years. To demonstrate the impact humans have had on the environment, Facklam examines the role in more recent extinctions of habitat destruction, excessive hunting and trapping, poaching, introduction of non-native species, pollution, DDT and other hazardous waste. In the final chapter, "And Now the Good News", the author ends the book on a positive note describing efforts through legislation and recovery programs to preserve endangered and threatened species from extinction.

Recommended in Nature's Course (November/December 1994) published by CCEL.

      Grades: 3rd to 6th

  Animals Like Us

by Andrea Mills and David Attenborough

HARDCOVER
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

The ARKive website was created to serve as a virtual "Noah’s Ark" of information about animals and plants throughout the world that are in danger of extinction. Launched by David Attenborough and based in England, this project was conceived to educate the public about the urgent need to protect and conserve endangered species and their habitats.

Designed to accompany the ARKive website, Animals Like Us features several of these endangered animals, organized by the five habitats of forest, desert, ocean, grassland and mountain. Spectacular color photography of each endangered species – close-ups and images of the animals in their respective habitats – as well as fascinating information about feeding habits, behavior, physical traits, maps of habitation and the problems of survival, provide a comprehensive look at these amazing creatures. Links to related websites are also included to explore habitats as well as internet sites of organizations working to save the world’s endangered species.

Introducing each section by habitat, the book describes the ways they are being destroyed and then examines some of the endangered animals that live there:
Forest: orangutan, kakapo, Verreaux’s sifaka, koala and tiger;
Desert: African elephant, Bactrian camel, Arabian oryx, Gila monster and Indian wild ass;
Ocean: humpback whale, sea otter, marine iguana, West Indian manatee and green turtle;
Grassland: cheetah, black rhinoceros, hyacinth macaw, Grevy’s zebra and giant anteater; and lastly,
Mountain: panda, Ethiopian wolf, mountain gorilla, snow leopard and spectacled bear.

Visit the ARKive website to find a wealth of information in the digital library of animals and plants listed as endangered by the World Conservation Union, including audio and video "portraits" through films and photographs at: www.arkive.org

      Grades: 3rd to 6th

  Antonio's Rain Forest

by Anna Lewington

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Venturing deep into the Amazon Rain Forest of western Brazil to the Alto Jurua Extractive Reserve, "Antonio's Rain Forest" presents the life of a local family working as rubber tappers, or seringueiros, and their role in protecting the endangered rain forest. Through the first person narrative of eight-year old Antonio, readers explore the daily life of his family, the local inhabitants and the environment of the rain forest. Complemented by vivid photographs, the narrative also follows Antonio with his relatives along the forest trail where they collect the sap from wild rubber trees and later prepare the latex. Regional maps and insets describe the history of rubber use over the years, the modifications of natural rubber such as vulcanization and the repercussions of the expansion of rubber manufacture abroad. This book also touches upon the social and economic factors that have influenced the survival of the seringueiros -- the formation of a government protected "extractive reserve" and the organization of a cooperative by local workers, both serving to protect the people from exploitation and also helping to preserve the endangered rainforests.

      Grades: 3rd to 6th

  Born With a Bang

by Jennifer Morgan

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth

The history of the universe from its beginnings with the Big Bang to the formation of the Earth and our planet’s evolution of life is presented in the form a letter written to an Earthling by the 13,000,000,000 year old universe. This imaginative, illustrated journey through time will leave readers with a sense of awe at the complexity and interconnectivity of the universe.

The Universe Story by Jennifer Morgan is a 3 book series that includes:

Born With a Bang: The Cosmic Story – the history of the universe, from its beginnings with the Big Bang through the formation of stars, galaxies and our Solar System

From Lava to Life: The Earth Story – the development of life on our planet into the vast array of plants and animals, concluding with the dinosaurs

Mammals Who Morph: The Evolution Story -- following the extinction of dinosaurs, the mammalian evolution from tiny mouse-like creatures through various other mammals leading to the appearance of humans


See also:
Rochelle Strauss' Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth
Steve Jenkins' Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution
Lisa Westberg Peters' Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story

        Grades: 2nd & up

  Butterflies Fly

by Yvonne Winter

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Spineless Creatures

Readers enter the dazzling realms of fifteen species of butterflies pictured in their natural habitats as they view the full-page illustrations and read the whimsical verses describing these insects. The watercolor and gouache close-ups by Karen Lloyd-Jones show the beauty and diversity of these insects that are factually explored in the identification guide at the end of the book. This book provides a visual feast for all ages, exploring a selection of butterflies from various parts of the world, some of which are being threatened by habitat destruction.

        Grades: 2nd to 5th

  The Butterfly's Treasure

by Schim Schimmel

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Various Classes

In a milkweed patch before summer's end, an old, wise butterfly passes along the wisdom he has learned to a young caterpillar -- his discovery of a "treasure beyond belief." Old Monarch recounts his wondrous year-long journey of discovery around the globe and his encounters with some of the most amazing animals of our planet. As he travels past brown bears, seals and polar bears of the Northern forests and Arctic, then passes the majestic great cats, elephants and gorillas of Africa and the rare snow leopards of the Himalayas, and encounters the penguins of the Antarctic and the dolphins of the Pacific, the secret of this priceless treasure breathtakingly unfolds revealing its fascinating gems. The engaging story and Schimmel’s stunning, beautiful artwork instill a sense of wonder and respect for the intimate connection of all living beings and the unique treasure in this universe -- our magnificent planet.

See also, other books by Schim Schimmel:
Dear Children of the Earth
The Family of Earth
Children of the Earth... Remember

      Grades: Preschool & up

  Can We Save Them?

by David Dobson

PAPERBACK
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

This book provides information about eleven species of endangered North American animals presented with descriptions of their physical characteristics, habitats, behavior and the causes for their endangered status. At the end of each double-page description and colorful illustration of the endangered species the author provides hope for its future and includes suggestions to promote its recovery. Species of endangered wildflowers are also discussed with mention of the importance of plants as sources of food and valuable medicines. The author concludes the book calling upon readers to help conserve endangered species and prevent their extinction.

Endangered species, primarily animals, discussed in the book include: Florida panthers, Oahu tree snails, gray bats, American burying beetles, peregrine falcons, eastern indigo snakes, cui-ui (fish species), Peary caribou, a variety of wildflowers, eastern timber wolves, Kirtland's warblers and Puerto Rican parrots. An annotated map of North America showing the distribution of the endangered species follows the text.

See also: Alexandra Wright's Will We Miss Them? Endangered Species, and
David McLimans' Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet

        Grades: 1st to 5th

  The Drop in My Drink

by Meredith Hooper

PAPERBACK
Water & Its Cycle

Taking a child on a fascinating voyage through time and place, "The Drop in My Drink" tells the story of water as it travels before the beginning of earth to our planet, through the primordial seas of ancient life forms, onto the land throughout millions of organisms which it nourishes. The water in the drop has traveled during its journey throughout the Earth in its forms of ice, vapor and liquid forming the landscape, eroding and rearranging the face of the planet. This engrossing picture book introduces a variety of topics to young readers about geology, biology and chemistry in relation to the role of water, interspersing relevant factual material throughout the drop's extensive journey. This intriguing voyage is followed by "Looking After Water" that outlines the importance of protecting our water resources, a section on the water cycle and "Amazing Water Facts" which supplements the text.

      Grades: 3rd to 6th

  Each Living Thing

by Joanne Ryder

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Various Classes

Celebrating the creatures of this earth, this picture book of double-page spreads and brief, poetic text echoes a message of awareness, caution and caring for all living beings on this earth. Whether it be a spider, alligator, bee, jellyfish, bear, snake or toad, each living thing has its own special place on earth.

      Grades: Preschool to 2nd

  Earth Matters: An Encyclopedia of Ecology

by David de Rothschild

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

From the deserts to the oceans, from the polar regions to the jungles, Earth Matters is a visual exploration of the wonders of our fragile planet, an encyclopedia of ecology with spectacular color photography and a wealth of information about the biosphere. Starting with the “Big Bang” of the universe through the evolution of life in unique conditions on the "Goldilocks planet", readers can delve into the eight biomes or major life zones of the planet – polar regions, temperate forest, deserts, grasslands, tropical forest, mountains, freshwater and oceans. While investigating the ecosystems and the amazing biodiversity of these regions through photos, maps, charts and diagrams, at the same time, the fragility of the biosphere is emphasized by showing the human impacts of the overexploitation of resources, desertification, pollution and climate change. This is a celebration of the wonders of the unique Earth ecosystem that also points to practical ways of making a difference in our daily lives since "how we live in our small patch of the planet affects everything, everywhere."

This is a DK book "Made with Care"

See also:
Laurie David’s and Cambria Gordon’s, Down-To-Earth Guide to Global Warming
Marybeth Lorbiecki’s, Planet Patrol


In the Foreword to Earth Matters, David de Rothschild mentions his plans to publicize the problems facing the planet in the Plastiki Adventure when he sails in a boat made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Read more about the expedition in National Geographic's Adventure : Voyage of the Plastiki

To learn more about the East Garbage Patch of the Pacific Ocean, see:
Loree Griffin Burns’s, Tracking Trash


      Grades: 4th & up

  Endangered Planet

by David Burnie

HARDCOVER
The Living Planet
Environmental Themes 

Examining the state of the Earth’s biosphere, Endangered Planet of the Kingfisher Knowledge series introduces children to the recent human impact on the planet. The first of three sections "Fragile Earth " describes the unique conditions of our planet that enabled the evolution of life over time, the specialization of life for survival in particular habitats and the changes caused by natural factors. "Planet under Pressure" examines the impact brought about by growing human populations and industrialization – the destruction of habitat and loss of biodiversity, the production of waste, the pollution of water and air, the consumption of energy resources and the changes to climate. Citing examples of eco-friendly initiatives, the last of three sections, "Sustainable World," explores possible solutions to the conservation of resources, habitat and biodiversity. Captioned color photos, diagrams and maps as well as listings of websites and a glossary together combine with the informative text into a comprehensive introduction to the issues and challenges of sustaining the Earth’s biosphere.

        Grades: 4th to 8th

  An Environmental Guide from A to Z

by Tim Magner

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth
Environmental Themes  : Pollution & Sustainability

From the Amazon Rainforest and Greenhouse Gases, through Habitats and Plankton, to the Rethink and Redesign Revolution and Zoo, An Environmental Guide from A to Z is a comprehensive alphabetical introduction to a wide range of topics about our biosphere. Magner not only delves into the workings of our planet by exploring the role of nature’s cycles, habitats, water, trees, worms, insects and mountains such as Kilimanjaro, but also includes individuals who have made important contributions to saving our planet – Jacques Cousteau, who drew attention to the wonders of the underwater world, John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, Paolo Lugari, who restored the South American wasteland of Gaviotas, Charles Darwin, who challenged ideas as to how nature evolved, Vo Quy, who restored tree habitats for birds after the wars in Vietnam, and, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, whose company is designed to minimize any impacts on nature. The concepts of Reducing and Recycling are expanded upon in the Rethink & Redesign Revolution that uses innovative ideas to make "things without creating pollution and landfill waste". Readers can also learn about the role of the sun and solar energy, the benefits of xeriscaping, native species, composting, urban farming and locally grown food as well as vegetarianism. Each topic is set against delicate watercolor illustrations adorned with floating leaves containing relevant questions. This is a wonderfully engaging book for kids to explore the interconnections and workings of nature as well as learn about ways to protect the Earth.

Printed on a mix of post-consumer waste recycled paper and FSC certified paper.

For younger children, see Tim Magner's N is For Nature: An Environmental Alphabet Book

      Grades: 3rd to 8th

  From Lava to Life

by Jennifer Morgan

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth

The history of the universe from its beginnings with the Big Bang to the formation of the Earth and our planet’s evolution of life is presented in the form a letter written to an Earthling by the 13,000,000,000 year old universe. This imaginative, illustrated journey through time will leave readers with a sense of awe at the complexity and interconnectivity of the universe.

The Universe Story by Jennifer Morgan is a 3 book series that includes:

Born With a Bang: The Cosmic Story – the history of the universe, from its beginnings with the Big Bang through the formation of stars, galaxies and our Solar System

From Lava to Life: The Earth Story – the development of life on our planet into the vast array of plants and animals, concluding with the dinosaurs

Mammals Who Morph: The Evolution Story -- following the extinction of dinosaurs, the mammalian evolution from tiny mouse-like creatures through various other mammals leading to the appearance of humans


See also:
Rochelle Strauss' Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth
Steve Jenkins' Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution
Lisa Westberg Peters' Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story

        Grades: 2nd & up

  Gone Forever!

by Sandra and William Markle

HARDCOVER
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

As an alphabet of extinct animals, this engrossing and thought-provoking book describes the complex issue of the extinction of various species -- extinction due to natural causes, but primarily in relation to human intervention and factors. This picture book includes descriptions of the behavior and habitat of extinct species once found in various regions of the world, most of which disappeared just during the last few centuries.

Vivid detailed illustrations and lively informative text describe extinct species of every letter of the alphabet: auroch, Atlas Bear, cisco, dodo bird, elephant bird, Palestinian painted frog, great auk, heath hen, Portuguese ibex, Arizona jaguar, Norfolk Island kaka, Barbary lion, moa, Oahu Nukupu'u, Syrian onager, passenger pigeon, quagga, Captain Maclear's rat, Steller's sea cow, Rodriguez greater tortoise, Utah Lake sculpin, Gull Island vole, Tasmanian wolf, xerces blue butterfly, Cuban yellow bat and Burchell's zebra.

      Grades: 3rd to 6th

  Home at Last

by April Pulley Sayre

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Various Classes

The amazing journeys of migrating animals are followed through vibrant, colorful pastel illustrations as they swim in streams and oceans, walk single file or in herds, crawl over rocks and roads, fly through the skies or flutter over mountains -- some just a mile, others thousands of miles halfway around the world. Warblers, salmon, sea turtles, monarch butterflies, gray whales, caribou, spiny lobsters, Arctic terns and wood frogs, all migrate until they are "home at last".

      Grades: Kindergarten to 2nd

  Isabel's House of Butterflies

by Tony Johnston

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Eight year old Isabel lives in Michoacan, a mountainous area of Mexico where 300 square miles form a natural sanctuary for monarch butterflies. Every autumn thousands and thousands of monarch butterflies migrating from the North flock to winter in the oyamel tree outside of Isabel’s window in La Casa de las mariposas -- The House of Butterflies. Isabel and her family, the neighbors and tourists marvel at the miracle of migration and the beauty of these fluttering visitors as the sky becomes orange with wings and the dusty paths change transform into orange rivers. Over the years, Isabel’s family has managed to find subsistence, but a continuing drought over the summer and autumn brings a meager harvest of corn and beans. Due to logging, many of the oyamel trees of the surrounding area are already disappearing from the forests. To Isabel’s dismay her father reluctantly considers chopping their tree to support the family. With hope and determination Isabel manages to find a solution to save and share the beauty of La Casa de las mariposas. The framed, colorful, textured paintings of this Sierra Club picture book depicting the daily life of the family, the wondrous beauty of the overwintering monarchs and the surrounding natural landscape offer a brief glimpse into the life of a young girl in rural Mexico and the complex issues of poverty, sustainability and conservation.

See also:

Kathryn Lasky’s Monarchs
Laurence Pringle's An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly
Bruce Coville's The Prince of Butterflies
Connie Muther’s My Monarch Journal -- an outstanding guide to raising monarchs that also includes a section for parents and teachers.

For more information, visit:
Journey North – a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change, including monarch butterflies.
Monarch Watch of the University of Kansas
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Monarch Lab for monarchs in the classroom.

        Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  The Living Rain Forest

by Paul Kratter

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Various Classes

The twenty-six animals of this alphabet book offer a fascinating glimpse of the millions of species inhabiting tropical rain forests. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects found in these habitats that "cover only six percent of the earth’s land yet contain over half its animal and plant species," are pictured in beautiful, detailed close-up images. Amazon River Dolphins, Morpho Butterflies, Parsons’ Chameleons, Leaf Katydids, Three-toed Sloths and Mountain Gorillas are several of the amazing creatures included from the five continents where tropical rain forests are located. Brief descriptions that cite unique adaptations of each animal to its habitat complement the illustrations of these animals whose habitats are threatened by global warming, deforestation and overhunting.

For more information visit:
Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Alliance

See also:
Kristin Joy Pratt's A Walk in the Rainforest,
Lynne Cherry's The Great Kapok Tree,
Madeleine Dunphy's Here is the Tropical Rain Forest, and
Rebecca Johnson's A Walk in the Rain Forest

        Grades: Preschool to 5th

  Mammals Who Morph

by Jennifer Morgan

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth

The history of the universe from its beginnings with the Big Bang to the formation of the Earth and our planet’s evolution of life is presented in the form a letter written to an Earthling by the 13,000,000,000 year old universe. This imaginative, illustrated journey through time will leave readers with a sense of awe at the complexity and interconnectivity of the universe.

The Universe Story by Jennifer Morgan is a 3 book series that includes:

Born With a Bang: The Cosmic Story – the history of the universe, from its beginnings with the Big Bang through the formation of stars, galaxies and our Solar System

From Lava to Life: The Earth Story – the development of life on our planet into the vast array of plants and animals, concluding with the dinosaurs

Mammals Who Morph: The Evolution Story -- following the extinction of dinosaurs, the mammalian evolution from tiny mouse-like creatures through various other mammals leading to the appearance of humans


See also:
Rochelle Strauss' Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth
Steve Jenkins' Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution
Lisa Westberg Peters' Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story

        Grades: 2nd & up

  Monarchs

by Kathryn Lasky

PAPERBACK
Animals : Spineless Creatures
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

"On the leaf of a milkweed plant in Maine, a monarch butterfly lays a miniscule egg. Soon a caterpillar hatches, and before long a new butterfly flutters in the breeze. Within its lifetime this tiny monarch will fly more than two thousand miles on a mysterious migration south. On the way it will join millions of other migrating monarchs. At the end of their journey these monarchs will be greeted by people whose lives have been changed by their beauty and mystery. Every year in Pacific Grove, California, the townspeople hold a parade to welcome the butterflies after their arduous flight. And in a small village in Michoacan, Mexico, where millions of wintering butterflies hang from trees, the villagers are replacing logging with tourism to preserve the monarch's fragile habitat. Photographs by Christopher Knight offer a unique view of the life cycle of this fascinating butterfly and into the lives of people touches by its magic." Review in Nature's Course (November/December 1995) published by CCEL.

See also:

Tony Johnston’s Isabel's House of Butterflies
Laurence Pringle's An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly
Bruce Coville's The Prince of Butterflies
Connie Muther’s My Monarch Journal -- an outstanding guide to raising monarchs that also includes a section for parents and teachers.

For more information, visit:
Journey North – a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change, including monarch butterflies.
Monarch Watch of the University of Kansas
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Monarch Lab for monarchs in the classroom.

      Grades: 3rd to 7th

  My Father's House

by Kathi Appelt

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Experience of Nature 

This is an illustrated spiritual poem of thanksgiving to the "Father" for all the many "mansions", the various habitats with the animals that comprise this beautiful blue planet that is our home. The lyrical verses and stylized artwork evoke a sense of wonder of the beauty and diversity of the natural world -- the Ocean "with its salted silver spray", the Tundra, the Woodland halls, the Prairie, the Rain Forest "with its attic where treetops catch the clouds", the misty Marsh, the Desert and the Mountains with "their porches wrapped in snow".

      Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  On the Brink of Extinction: The California Condor

by Caroline Arnold

HARDCOVER
Animals : Birds
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

"This information-packed text tells the dramatic story of the struggle to save one endangered species. Because of habitat loss, shooting, and poisoning by DDT, California Condor populations dwindled, despite everything scientists could learn or do to help birds in the wild. Captive breeding seemed to be the last hope. Color photographs reveal the fascinating but difficult steps required to raise an adult bird from one small, vulnerable egg. The ultimate message is hopeful, with pictures of soaring condors making clear the ultimate goal: reestablishing the birds in the wild." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (November/December 1994) published by CCEL.

      Grades: 3rd to 7th

  Once a Wolf

by Stephen R. Swinburne

HARDCOVER
Naturalists & Their Work
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

" 'Hatred of wolves goes far back in history. As soon as people began raising livestock, wolves became the enemy and the symbol of savagery. In 5,000 B.C., the earliest farmers of Asia killed wolves to protect cattle, sheep and other domestic animals. Aesop, a slave living in Greece around 600 B.C. wrote many stories that painted the wolf as a cunning and greedy beast.' So begins this amazingly comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and compelling book for older elementary children. It is beautifully illustrated with photographs by Jim Brandenburg, one of the world's finest wildlife photographers. ... Brandenburg sets up camp near the wolves until they go about their lives virtually ignoring him and providing us with remarkable and candid views of a wolf's everyday life." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (Winter 1999) published by CCEL.

Swinburne eloquently presents the wolf of legend and the wolf of fact, tracing the myths that have almost destroyed a species and describing the studies and efforts raised since the 1930's to save the wolf from extinction. Numerous images -- photographs as well as illustrations, some from archives of history -- complement the text bringing to light the preponderant attitudes of humans worldwide towards the wolf as a "beast of waste and desolation" and contrasting the more recent work of conservationists and scientists who have studied the important role of the wolf in the web of life as well as who strive to restore this mammal to its habitat. As part of the "Scientist in the Field" Series, this book also affords an informative perspective for children of the research and field study of scientists involved in restoring the wolf to Yellowstone Park.

        Grades: 5th to 8th

  The Prairie Builders

by Sneed B. Collard III

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa is the site of a project begun in 1992 to rebuild the native tallgrass prairie, the regional ecosystem that once was the dominant natural habitat for an abundance of plant and animal species in the Midwest stretching from Ohio to North Dakota and Minnesota to Texas. The author notes, "Grasses up to twelve feet tall fed elk, deer, pronghorn, and between 30 and 75 million bison, or buffalo." By collecting native seeds, using controlled burn to stimulate growth of new prairie plants and reintroducing native species of buffalo, elk as well as the elusive Regal Fritillary butterfly, a dedicated group of scientists and volunteers worked over several years to reestablish a destroyed regional ecosystem and gradually witnessed its rebirth as the site of the largest national prairie reconstruction. Collard chronicles their efforts providing an insightful overview complemented by color photographs into the complexities of the process in bringing back the tallgrass prairie that had almost completely vanished from the North American landscape.

For more information, visit Friends of the Prairie Learning Center, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge at: www.tallgrass.org

See also: Jim Brandenburg's An American Safari
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's, Fire: Friend or Foe, and
Sneed Collard III's Butterfly Count

        Grades: 4th to 8th

  The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle

by Lynne Cherry

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Following the development of a mangrove tangle from a sprouting seed into a spreading mangrove island as it gradually grows into a nesting place for birds and a nursery for fish and shellfish, this is a story about the community of life in the Caribbean Sea that depends upon a mangrove tangle for food and shelter. The beautiful artwork and engaging narrative depict the diversity and interdependence of life found in these habitats -- pelicans, herons, shrimp, crabs, lizards, seahorses, dolphins, sea turtles and manatees. In the "Author’s Note", Cherry describes the importance of mangroves not only as barriers for coastal areas from storms, but also as filters that clean out run off pollutants in the water. Many of these important mangrove habitats have been cleared in recent years to create commercial developments and shrimp farms. Maps on the endpapers show the location of these threatened ecosystems and include bordering illustrations of the numerous species of these unique and endangered communities.

For more information visit:
Mangrove Action Project, a project of Earth Island Institute.
The Mangrove Bio-complexity Project of the Smithsonian Environment Research Center.

      Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  Snapshots: The Wonders of Monterey Bay

by Celeste Mannis

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

The wonders of Monterey Bay are vividly captured in stunning photography, poetic verse and informative text describing the rugged coastline, the glimmering tidepools and the diversity of life forms of this unique marine ecosystem. The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, "the largest federally protected marine environment in North America, " is the site of a vast underwater canyon larger than the Grand Canyon and of rocky shores, kelp forests, sandy beaches, marshes and dunes. Home to sea otters, sea lions, brown pelicans, black-tailed and mule deer, rare moths and butterflies, egrets, blue herons and cormorants, the sanctuary is also visited annually by Northern elephant seals as a rookery and by whales and birds during their migrations. Readers can explore the beauty and astounding diversity of ocean and coastal life as well as spectacular vistas and close-ups of the bay, inland marshes and dunes that inspired author and photographer, Mannis, to share her love of the unique coastal ecosystem where the Pacific Ocean meets central California.

For more information, visit: The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and The Monterey Bay Aquarium.

      Grades: Kindergarten to 4th

  Swan Song: Poems of Extinction

by J. Patrick Lewis

HARDCOVER
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Through poetry Lewis pays homage to 22 species that have gone extinct due to human intervention over the last 400 years. These tributes are complemented by black and white wood engravings and endnotes that further elucidate the causes of the species’ extinction.

The animals cited in these "few small epitaphs in verse to mark their passing" include: Aurochs, Dodo, Chatham Island Swan, Elephant Bird, Steller’s Sea Cow, Blue Buck, Rodriguez Greater Saddleback Tortoise, Painted Vulture, Great Auk, Eastern Elk or Wapiti, Quagga, Laughing Owl, Arizona Jaguar, Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Barbary Lion, Badlands (Audubon’s) Bighorn Sheep, Tasmanian Pouched Wolf, Hawaiian O-O, Bali Tiger, Deepwater Cisco, Miss Waldron’s Red Colobus Monkey.

To learn more about biodiversity visit:
Conservation International
The Convention on Biological Diversity

To learn more about endangered species visit:
Defenders of Wildlife's Kids' Planet
World Wildlife Fund’s Endangered Species

See also: Sandra and William Markle's Gone Forever!,
Margaret Facklam's And Then There Was One,
Alexandra Wright's Will We Miss Them? Endangered Species,
David McLimans' Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet
David Dobson's Can We Save Them?
Steve Jenkins' Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals
Melvin and Gilda Berger's Where Have All the Pandas Gone?


      Grades: 5th to 8th

  Tree of Life

by Rochelle Strauss

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth
Animals  : Various Classes

Tree of Life is an informative, scientific overview of the incredible diversity and interrelationship of life on Earth. The branches of the five Kingdoms of classification of life are each described on two-page spreads that also include captioned images on leaves of the tree, each leaf a symbol of the members of the respective Kingdom. The Animal Kingdom is examined in more detail, branching further into the Vertebrate classification of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. The text then focuses on one specific leaf of the Tree of Life -- the leaf of humans -- showing the relationship to, as well as the tremendous impact of our species on, the Tree of Life Strauss concludes with information for becoming guardians of the Tree of Life, by learning "to live our lives within the Tree – as 1 leaf among 1,750,000". The afterword to parents and teachers adds depth to the scientific concepts and provides suggestions on fostering a biodiversity ethic with children.

      Grades: 3rd to 7th

  A Walk in the Rainforest

by Kristin Joy Pratt

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

The biodiversity and interdependence of the exotic animals and vegetation of the rainforest are presented in a concise alphabet format through the travels of the ant, XYZ. Each page abounds in color and facts about the lifestyle and habitat of a plant or animal. The threat of extinction and conservation themes are also discussed.

See also the accompanying book A Teacher's Guide to a Walk in the Rainforest

        Grades: Preschool to 7th

  The Water Hole

by Graeme Base

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

This amusing puzzle and counting book carrying an ecological theme artfully depicts the diversity of animals of different habitats from around the world -- each group looking onto a water hole that grows smaller and smaller at each successive image. As more and more animals at each habitat crowd around the dwindling water hole, one-by-one the frogs disappear . . . until the rainstorm when all the animals are reunited around the plentiful water hole. Graeme Base, who both wrote and illustrated the book, was inspired by a safari in Kenya and Tanzania to create a book about the cycle of seasons on the African plains, which was eventually expanded to include other habitats and their wildlife -- rhinos, tigers, toucans, snow leopards, moose, catfish, pandas, ladybugs, tortoises and kangaroos -- from India, South America, the Himalayas, North America, China, Europe, the Galapagos and Australia.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone

by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

HARDCOVER
Animals : Mammals
Habitats & Ecosystems 

Patent’s concise, informative and engaging text, describing how the reintroduction of wolves restored the balance in the Yellowstone ecosystem, is complemented by historical and recent full-color photography of the wolves and Yellowstone, its majestic geological wonders and native wildlife. Yellowstone was established in 1872 as a national park to preserve its geologic wonders of geysers, canyons, boiling hot pools, and mud pots "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people". To preserve the big game animals, hunters were paid to kill wolves and by 1926 not a single wolf was left in the lower 48 states. With the wolves gone, the elk and coyote populations in Yellowstone flourished. As time passed, however, the elk ate the young shoots and bark of trees that had provided food and nesting sites for songbirds as well as wood for beavers to build lodges and dams which had created ponds used by dragonflies, ducks and moose. Coyotes, now Yellowstone’s top predator, killed elk calves and newborn pronghorn fawns and ate animals that other smaller predators, such as foxes, hawks, owls and badgers, needed to survive. With the disappearance of wolves the balance of the complex ecosystem had been upset. Over time scientists began to realize the important, essential role played by wolves as a keystone species in an ecosystem where wolves had lived along with other animals for thousands of years. After an absence of almost seventy years, in 1995 several packs of wolves captured in Canada were introduced back into Yellowstone. Gradually nature’s balance in Yellowstone has been restored – "Returning the wolf is helping to make Yellowstone whole again. "

See also:
Jean Craighead George's The Wolves Are Back
Stephen Swinburne's Once A Wolf: How Wildlife Biologists Fought to Bring Back the Gray Wolf
Janni Howker's Walk with a Wolf /a>

To learn more about wolves, visit:
NRDC's
Save BioGems
Yellowstone National Park.com
Yellowstone Wolves.org

      Grades: 2nd & up

  Where Have All the Pandas Gone?

by Melvin and Gilda Berger

PAPERBACK
Animals : Various Classes
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Children can learn about endangered species throughout the world, explore the reasons why different animals have become endangered, primarily due to habitat loss, overhunting and pollution, and find out about ways people have attempted to save endangered species. Presented in a question and answer format, this informative book, illustrated showing each of the animals in their respective habitats, describes endangered land animals (pandas, mountain gorillas, golden lion tamarins, Indian tigers, rhinoceroses and Arabian oryx), birds that have neared extinction (bald eagles, California condors, brown pelicans, whooping cranes, Everglade snail kites, Seychelles warblers and piping plovers) as well as endangered water animals (whales, manatees, sea otters, sea turtles, alligators and crocodiles). The success story of the comeback of the peregrine falcon from near extinction is examined and several suggestions are offered how readers can help save endangered animals.

      Grades: 2nd to 4th

  Who Eats What?: Food Chains and Food Webs

by Patricia Lauber

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Interrelationships in food webs and the role of green plants as the basic source of energy in food chains are lucidly explained to young readers along with clearly labeled ink-and-watercolor drawings of life both on land and in the sea. The repercussions of the near extinction of Western sea otters is explained to show the interdependence of living creatures and the impact of human actions on ecosystems. Children are encouraged to explore the intricacies of food webs and their own ecological link by creating drawings based on their diets and direct observations of the world.

        Grades: Kindergarten to 4th

  Woodland Counting Book

by Claudia McGehee

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

Years ago before the pioneers settled the prairies, the bordering woodlands were home to numerous plants and animals, many of which are now endangered or extinct. McGehee’s counting book, exquisitely illustrated by colorful scratchboard artwork, introduces readers to the diversity and beauty of life that abounds in woodland communities over a cycle of seasons beginning with spring. From towering oaks, brilliant serviceberries and patches of mayapple wildflowers to pale green luna moths, tree-climbing gray foxes, blue spotted salamanders and colonies of carpenter ants – each page offers a visual and counting exploration of the woodland habitat in which young children can count up to 50 members of a species. "Woodland Notes" invites older readers to learn more about the twenty-three different plants and animals cited in the book which are now left in small portions of remaining woodland habitat, for "each mighty in its own way, every woodland member fills a special place in nature."

As part of the Green Press Initiative, this book is printed by the University of Iowa Press on recycled acid-free paper.

See also:
Claudia McGehee's A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet, and
Jonathan London's Phantom of the Prairie: Year of the Black Footed Ferret

      Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  You Are the Earth

by David Suzuki & Kathy Vanderlinden

HARDCOVER
The Living Earth
Environmental Themes  : Pollution & Sustainability

Suzuki wrote "You Are the Earth" to show children that we require the four physical elements -- air, water, soil, and the sun's energy -- to survive, and that we must protect this precious basis of all life. Through fascinating presentations of factual information and ancient myths, the author unfolds the wonders of our connections to the Earth and the interrelationship of all living beings in space and time -- the molecular continuum that pervades our planet and the intricate balance that sustains all life. Citing examples of what children throughout the world have done to improve social and environmental conditions, Suzuki calls upon all children to become involved in protecting the Earth since they are the Earth.

Visit: www.davidsuzuki.org

        Grades: 3rd & up