Friday, December 8, 2023

Earth Out of Balance

 Themes: climate, environment, immigration

A couple years ago I put this book aside to review for an Earth Day post. Then things piled up… after this summer of disasters – wildfires, floods, storms – it’s abundantly clear that our Earth is out of balance.

Our World Out of Balance: Understanding Climate Change and What We Can Do
by Andrea Minoglio; illus. by Laura Fanelli
72 pages; ages 8-12
Blue Dot Kids Press, 2021

The book opens with an explanation of global warming and why we should stop it. So many reasons! Among them: rising sea levels that threaten communities, loss of forested land, urban heat islands, displaced wildlife, and extreme weather events. The book is broken down into 15 chapters, each one explaining a specific environmental problem related to climate chaos. Included in each chapter is a “how you can help” section and one on “how people are helping.” The book ends by focusing on actions readers can take and how they can be part of the solution. One person seems so small when you’re looking at a huge problem. But every small action you and your friends take adds up to make a difference. There’s also a list of community science projects kids and their families can get involved with.
Where Can We Go? A Tale of Four Bears
By Dai Yun; illus. by Igor Oleynikov
40 pages; ages 4-8
Greystone Books, 2023

One orange and purple evening, Papa comes home with only one small fish in his paws. He says, “We are moving tomorrow.”

Papa isn’t sure where they are going, but it will be a place where seals abound. Except … when they get to a place with food, it’s not seals they end up eating. It’s scraps from the garbage dump. And when they get tired, Papa looks for a place to sleep.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the three bears had invaded Goldilocks’s house? Only, in this story it’s not curiosity that drives them to try out the beds, the chairs, the bowls of food. It’s climate change.

What I like about this book: I like how the illustrator brings us right into bear culture. Papa and Mama wear necklaces of bones and Mama has ear piercings. I like how the bears explore the house, find a bed that is “just right,” and later decide they need to find something more suitable for bears. It has a wee feeling of cynicism – perhaps something lost in translation? – but it is a good book for opening a discussion about climate change, refugees, immigration, or even sparking ideas for putting a new spin on an old story.

Beyond the Books:

Think of three things you can do to make the Earth a better place for trees and animals. If you live in a drought-stricken area, you might think of ways to cut wasteful use of water. If you’re concerned about melting sea ice (which makes it hard for polar bears to hunt) you might come up with ways you can get from one place to another without using a car.

Do you know of any animals in your area that are being forced out of their home by climate change or habitat loss? Where do they go?

If you had to leave Right Now, what would you grab to take with you? If you live in an area where you might have to evacuate due to flooding or fire, you may want to make a “grab-and-go” bag. Here’s some advice from a place that’s seen its share of wild fires.

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. Such a timely book and one perfect for this age group and our future on this planet we call home. I'll be looking for my own copy to share with young readers. Thanks for the post and HAPPY MMGM!

  2. I appreciate that you're highlighting these books that draw attention to climate change, Sue—it really is frightening to watch the ways in which the planet and weather are changing day-to-day, and I hope that stories like these can build generations of people who understand the role they have in taking care of this planet. (I don't know about you, but I'm not too keen on moving to Mars—pretty dusty there!) Thanks so much for the thoughtful reviews, as always!

    1. I'm not keen kn moving to Mars, either. This is our home - we should take good care of it.

  3. I agree with Greg that both these books are very timely. KIds are really interested in global warming these days. These are great books for them.

  4. Two really important books. Thanks for spotlighting them here. I appreciate knowing about them.

  5. Both of these sound like important books. I like the questions you asked at the end of the post too. I try to do helpful things for our planet- but it always helps to stop and reflect about other things we can do. I also haven't thought about what I would grab if I had to flee- so you have given me even more to think about. Thanks for sharing these!

  6. Thanks for sharing these books. They sound thought provoking and should lead to good discussions in a classroom. Carol Baldwin