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Book Reviews

Kids and the Natural World
By Margriet Ruurs
Book Reviews

Watch Me Grow, and Up We Grow, by Deborah Hodge. Any school looking to start a garden or encourage children to take an interest in nature should acquire these two nonfiction picture books. The first title focuses on growing food in the city. From beets and tomatoes grown in backyards and balconies, to bees on rooftops and urban chickens, the book features photos of kids growing plants and nurturing animals. The second title presents the reader with a sense of what it’s like to spend a year on a small farm. Both books offer ideas for growing your own food, including recipes (Kids Can Press; ISBN 978-1-55453-618-4, ISBN 978-1-55453-561-3).
Water’s Children, by Angèle Delaunois. What does water mean to children in different regions of the world? For some, water takes the form of snow or an ocean full of fish. For others, the presence of water means there will be rice or vegetables. Sometimes water means dancing in the rain; other times it means just one cup of tea in the desert. Take a journey with this poetic nonfiction picture book to find out how important water is to children everywhere, even to those who have not yet been born (Pajama Press, ISBN 978-1-77278-015-4).
Safari, by Robert Bateman. This gorgeous picture book shares the art of Robert Bateman with young readers. Each image is an impressive, realistic painting of an African animal. Part diary, part notebook, the text and images take the reader along on a safari to meet such as animals as lions, zebras, elephants, wildebeest, and more. With a selection of rough sketches, this book will appeal to young artists and nature lovers alike. Text boxes present detailed information on each animal (Little, Brown; ISBN 978-0670879700).
The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan. This book is an eye-opening read for high school students and adults about the age-old conflict between Palestine and Israel. This nonfiction account tells the story of a young man who visits the Arab home in which he grew up and where his family’s roots run deep. But the house is now owned by a young Israeli woman who starts to realize that this place is not hers alone. Through these two people, their families, and their shared attachment to this house, the author explains the complicated conflict better than any official account could. I found it a fascinating read and highly recommend it to anyone wishing to gain a deeper understanding of this difficult issue. The book has been made into a movie by the same title (Bloomsbury, ISBN 9781596913431).
Writing For Children and Young Adults, by Marion Crook. Many teachers hope to, one day, write a book for children. Writing for Children and Young Adults is one of the most comprehensive and helpful guides any beginning author could wish for. In clear and thoughtful language, Crook covers topics ranging from the basic ingredients of a story to query letters and contracts. She discusses different types of audience, how to develop characters and dialogue but also the importance of research and developing an authentic voice. This is a book that everyone who wants to write for children should have (Self-Counsel Press, ISBN 978-1-77040-276-8).
Margriet Ruurs is the author of 27 books for children.

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