Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Our Planet on the Page: Books about the Environment - April 2012

Selected and annotated by Anna Holland

Beard, Alex. Crocodile’s Tears. Abrams, 2012. 38p. 5-8 yrs.
When a black rhino and a tickbird find Crocodile crying, they set out to know the reason why. The two animals ask many creatures, who in turn attribute the reason to some great environmental and ecological lament.   

Burns, Loree Griffin. The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe. Houghton, 2010. 66p. Gr. 5-8.
Without honeybees our world would be in trouble. Honeybees help ensure that we have plentiful fruit and vegetable crops. In 2006, honeybees began to vanish without a trace. Burns investigates scientific speculation, as well as the important role bees play in our ecosystem.  

Burns, Loree Griffin. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. Houghton, 2007. 56p. Gr. 5-9.
Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer combs the beaches looking for trash—he’s a “trash tracker.”  By documenting and recording the traveled distance of trash in the waters, Dr. Ebbesmeyer contributes to the larger body of scientific data used to help protect and understand the delicate ocean-sphere and its inhabitants.

Chandler, Kristen. Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me. Viking, 2010. 371p. Gr. 7-10.
Sixteen-year-old KJ Carson’s life is about to change when she meets Virgil, the son of a wildlife ecologist studying the wolves living in Yellowstone National Park. Quiet and obedient KJ quickly finds herself involved in the highly controversial and dangerous wolf reintroduction program—not to mention a romance with Virgil!

Christopher, Lucy. Flyaway. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2011. 328p. Gr. 5-8.
With her father in the hospital, bird-loving Isla meets young Harry, a leukemia patient. Together, Harry and Isla find their hearts draw to a lone whooper swan on the hospital grounds and set out to help her find her flock.

Davies, Nicola. Gaia Warriors. Candlewick, 2011. 192p. Gr. 6-10.
Gaia Warriors are people—young and old, wealthy and poor—fighting against climate change. Davies takes on the big topic of global warming in this informative, call to action book about the basics of climate change.

Davies, Nicola. Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature. Candlewick, 2012. 108p. Gr. 2-4.
Zoologist and author Nicola Davies explores the often-overlooked natural world outside our window with childlike wonder. Divided thematically by season, nearly sixty informational poems about nature guide the reader through the busy annual schedule of budding, blooming, scavenging, and seeding time.

Guiberson, Brenda Z. Life in the Boreal Forest. Holt, 2009. 32p. Gr. 3-5.
The boreal forest of the north is home to an entire ecosystem of wildlife and fauna. The forest is also in danger and disappears gradually more and more with each growing year. Beautifully detailed illustrations capture the awe and wonder of the natural world with intent of treasuring and preserving it.

Hiaasen, Carl. Scat. Knopf, 2009. 384p. Gr. 6-9.
What exactly is going on at Black Vine Swamp? Nick’s brilliant biology teacher, Mrs. Starch, has disappeared on their field trip and the mystery of where she’s gone involves a Texan oilman, a panther, an eccentric eco-activist, and, of course, Black Vine Swamp.  

Kelsey, Elin. Not Your Typical Book about the Environment. Owlkids, 2010. 64p. Gr. 4-8.
What is your food, water, clothing, technology, and energy consumption? What does sustainability means in a growing and changing world? Big world challenges meet opportunity in this innovative and philosophical book for kids about making eco-conscious decisions. 

Lyon, George Ella. All the Water in the World. Jackson/Atheneum, 2011. 40p. 5-9 yrs.
This lyrical picture book takes on the hydrological cycle with celebration, splashy illustrations, and an eco-explanative urge to keep the earth’s water clear and clean to “keep Earth green!”   

Marrin, Albert. Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives. Knopf, 2012. 181p. Gr. 7-12.
In more ways than one, oil, quite literally, drives our economy. For those curious about the historical, political, and environmental impacts surrounding the greatest treasured natural resource of our time, Marrin writes a well-organized and accessible exposé.

McDonald, Abby. Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots. Candlewick, 2010. 304p. Gr. 7-10.
Seventeen-year-old Jenna is a suburban environmental activist about to go on a wild Canadian outdoor adventure. But how will her radical commitment to living green hold up in the not-so-pampered natural world?  

Montgomery, Sy. Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot. Houghton, 2010. 74p. Gr. 5-9.
The New Zealand kakapo is one of the most unusual and largest parrots alive. The kakapo is also severely endangered due mainly to reasons introduced by humans. New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team, however, is working to monitor and protect kakapo habitats and population.

Na, Il Sung. Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons. Knopf, 2011. 32p. 4-6 yrs.
Brilliantly bright illustrations cheerfully carry young readers through the changing of the seasons from the first snows of winter to the first thaw of spring with the aid of a round white rabbit guide.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature’s Balance in Yellowstone. Walker, 2008. 40p. Gr. 3-5.
In the early twentieth century, Yellow Stone National Park underwent a movement to eradicate its wolf population—not recognizing the important role wolves play in maintaining the park’s ecosystem. The well-documented story of the wolves’ return serves as a kid-accessible lesson in ecology. 

Rockwell, Anne. What's So Bad about Gasoline?: Fossil Fuels and What They Do. Collins/HarperCollins, 2009. 32p. Gr. 2-3.
Dedicated to “all the kids who are concerned about the future of our planet,” this book introduces the history and culture that drives our fossil fuel, oil, and coal use. Modern transportation and the affects on the atmosphere are examined, in addition to alternative energy solutions.

Rosenstock, Barb. The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks. Dial, 2012. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
In this picture book, two influential figures with a shared zeal for the natural world embark on a camping adventure in Yosemite. Together, Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir unknowingly change the future landscape of the United States. Their passion and influence in politics and literature helped to begin the development of the national park system.

Rotner, Shelly. The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing? Holiday House, 2010. 32p. Gr. 3-6.
What is causing the disappearance of so many honeybees? This photographic information book attempts to solve the mystery and highlights the key role of honeybees in the agricultural process.

Ruddell, Deborah. A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems. McElderry, 2009. 34p. Gr. 3-5.
This playful book of poems presents many lyrical snapshots of the wild world and its critter inhabitants. Ruddell’s forest is lush and funny and not without its human observers.

Sidman, Joyce. Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night. Houghton, 2010. 32p. Gr. 4-7.
In this collection of poems, readers will find an informative and humorous look at nocturnal wildlife. Playful illustrations span the entire night, from dusk to dawn, and magnify the dark and tiny organisms of the night, bringing them to light for all to enjoy.

Turner, Pamela S. Project Seahorse. Houghton, 2010. 57p. Gr. 5-8.
Project Seahorse is a seahorse conservation program headed off the coast of the Philippines. Concerned with environmental protection, the organization takes a look at human interaction and policies that have attributed to seahorse population depletion as well as suggest actions and ways to help seahorses.   

Winter, Jonah. Here Comes the Garbage Barge. Schwartz & Wade, 2010. 36p. 5-9 yrs.
Based on the true and smelly tale of the 3,168-ton load of trash shipped out of port from Islip, New York in 1987. Winter writes a sadly comical and slightly exaggerated story about excessive waste, chronically the adventures of the garbage barge and its eventual return to the island city 162 days later.

Yaccarino, Dan. The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau. Knopf, 2009. 32p. Gr. 2-4.
Jacques Cousteau was more than an explorer; he was a creator. Cousteau, along with his team of scientists, invented the waterproof camera and improved diving equipment. They also were the first to bring the depths of the ocean bottom to the television screen for the world to see. Cousteau went on to become an ambassador for the ocean and ocean life and underwent to educate the public about ocean pollution.

Yezerski, Thomas F. Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story. Farrar, 2011. 36p. Gr. 3-5.
Yerzerski details the ecological history of the wetlands along the Hackensack River over hundreds of years, chronicling wetland recovery efforts to end toxic-waste dumping, damming, and human intrusion. Includes watercolor illustrations, photographs, a bibliography, and a webliography.