Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wild thing: new nature books for kids

Young readers interested in nature might like these new books, published recently by big and small presses. The picture books are big and colorful, and the non-fiction choices feature worlds of information about natural habitats from Africa to your own backyard. You can find copies of these books using the World Catalog / Amazon.com search boxes here on BookBag.

Wild Tracks! A Guide to Nature's Footprints, by Jim Arnosky (Sterling). Nonfiction. Books tell stories with words, but animal tracks can tell "a whole story at your feet, imprinted on the mud or snow or scratched into the sand." In this attractive and informative guide, author and illustrator Jim Arnosky shows how to recognize and interpret the tracks of deer and other hoofed animals as well as those of bears, felines, canines, reptiles, birds, and small animals (such as armadillos, opossums, and mice). Four large fold-out pages show life-sized tracks--just in case you need to know whether it's a bobcat that's been prowling around your house. If you enjoy Wild Tracks!, you might also like Arnosky's Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles.

Emi and the Rhino Scientist: Saving Species from Extinction, by Mary Kay Carson (Houghton Mifflin). Nonfiction. Sumatran rhinos, the world's smallest type of rhinoceros, are "one of the most endangered mammals on the planet"--and it's part of scientist Terri Roth's job to help prevent them from going extinct. This well-illustrated book tells the amazing story of rhino couple Emi and Ipuh and the baby (the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity in more than a century!) that Terri helped them to have.

Frightful's Mountain, by Jean Craighead George (Dutton). Fiction. This dramatic sequel to My Side of the Mountain and On the Far Side of the Mountain is told from the viewpoint of Frightful, the peregrine falcon that young Sam Gribley raised. After being released into the wild, Frightful must now survive on her own -- but she

constantly searching "for the one mountain, the one tree" where Sam raised her. This book's vivid details about falcon habitat and behavior and the dangers and confusion that Frightful faces will enthrall nature lovers.

Jackie's Wild Seattle, by Will Hobbs (HarperCollins). Fiction. How do you get a coyote out of an elevator? Fourteen-year-old Shannon Young and her little brother Cody are about to find out. When Cody and Shannon's parents leave the country for the summer, the siblings travel from New Jersey to Seattle to stay with their uncle. Uncle Neal works for a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center called Jackie's Wild Seattle, and when he is injured by a hawk, Shannon and Cody pitch in to help rescue every kind of animal from an otter to a bear cub to a seal and many more. Based on an actual rescue operation, this wild adventure in the city is sure to touch the hearts of animal lovers.

Kids' Easy-to-Create Wildlife Habitats, by Emily Stetson (Williamson Books) Nonfiction. Every animal requires its own special habitat, and this fun book shows how kids--whether they live in the city, the suburbs, or out in the country--can help encourage and support the wildlife around them. In addition to providing tips on how to observe wildlife scientifically, author Emily Stetson also shows how to make a variety of simple and inexpensive bird feeders, butterfly gardens, insect and amphibian shelters, and more!

Dolphins, by Seymour Simon (Smithsonian) Nonfiction. If you're interested in dolphins--not the football team, but the friendly, intelligent mammals of the sea who seem to have no fear of humans--then this is the book for you. Award-winning science writer Seymour Simon presents a wealth of fascinating facts about dolphins, their habits, and the threats to their existence (such as people). Plenty of color photographs illustrate this fun and interesting book.

The Woods Scientist, by Stephen R. Swinburne (Houghton Mifflin) Nonfiction. Habitat ecologist Susan Morse has loved "reading the woods" for as long as she can remember. In this fascinating book, she shows how to interpret all sorts of signs that animals leave behind them, from tracks to scat to claw marks on trees. She also explains why conservation of wildlife habitats is so important. If you love nature but think that your passion could never lead to a career, this book can help you think again.

Books or Kindle?

From the "Econundrums" column by Kiera Butler (from Mother Jones magazine):

My friends rave about their Amazon Kindles, but as a bookstore junkie, I’m wary. I’m pretty sure old-fashioned books are aesthetically superior—they look, feel, and smell a whole lot better than an LCD screen. But last year, the book and newspaper publishing industries used 125 million trees, creating as much carbon 7.3 million cars did in the same amount of time. A from the environmental consulting firm Cleantech Group found that the Kindle’s lifecycle impact is much less: In its first year, it offsets the emissions created by its manufacture, and over its lifecycle, its carbon savings even out to about 370 pounds of CO2, or the equivalent of about 22.5 books per year. So what’s a book aesthete to do?

One (admittedly retro) option: a library card. Let’s imagine you buy 20 books a year. According to Cleantech Group, that’s about 331 pounds of carbon. Now say you’re willing to buy only five books a year—new releases that you just can’t wait for—and get the other 15 from the library. The San Francisco library bought 78,445 books in 2008. Let’s assume each of the library’s 2,265,209 visitors borrowed two books. Of course, they’re not all borrowing newly purchased books. But if all those patrons are shouldering the carbon burden of the new books, that evens out to about 0.3 pounds of CO2 per patron. You’ve reduced your reading emissions to 42 pounds of CO2, nearly an eighth of what they would be if you bought all your books new.

Another way to think about it: The carbon impact of reading—either on paper or via e-reader—is dwarfed by that of TV: A typical 34-37-inch LCD-display television creates about 474 pounds of carbon a year—significantly more than the 370 pounds of carbon emitted in a year of reading a Kindle or books—and that’s not even counting the carbon created by your TV’s manufacture.

The bottom line: Borrow more books than you buy—but whether or not you decide to join the Kindle-wielding masses, reading is always better for the planet than turning on the boob tube.

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