Monday, January 31, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Not your typical book about the environment by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Clayton Hanmer

The author begins this book by saying, "Warning: This is not a typical book about the environment! It is not filled with doom-and-gloom messages about the state of the planet. It does not blame you, your baby sister, or your uncle Irving for climate change. It will not introduce huge, gnarly problems that are too big to deal with."

This is pretty true. This book is crammed with ideas and facts about the environment from eco-fabric to healthy and environmentally safe eating habits. There are practical suggestions and stories about what real people are doing to help the environment - and what kids can do to help.

The thing is....there's a bit too much information. Every one of the 64 pages is crammed tight with information, ideas, suggestions, facts, and stories. The type is small and dense, although the text is broken up into chunks with headers. While an older reader might not have a problem with the amount and size of the text, the illustrations are extremely cartoonish (and why do all the people have vampire teeth?) and the size of the book says "picture book". The book should either have been heavily edited and given larger, clearer type, or it should have been put into a typical middle grade book shape and given more mature pictures, or maybe photographs.

This is just my opinion, of course. I borrowed this from my neighboring librarian and she really likes it - thought it was upbeat and attractive. A couple of the journal reviews do say the design is somewhat cluttered, but nobody but me seems to find the illustrations irritating. Oh well, that's how it is sometimes.

Verdict: This book was a good idea and has a lot of excellent information, but the design makes it unattractive. I'll stick to buying recycled crafts books for the moment. I would recommend it for school libraries, especially if you're going to be doing projects or studies on the anything environment-related.

ISBN:978-1897349847; Published March 2010 by Owlkids; Borrowed from the library.


NatalieSap said...

I bought this for my school library and was also disappointed at how text-heavy it is. I have yet to see anyone pick it up!

Jennifer said...

Yeah, the format is just really unfortunate. Of course, sometimes there's no pleasing anyone...had a grandma in today, wanting to pick out a book for her grandson. He's in 7th grade, reads above 1000 lexile. His mom told him he couldn't read Grisham anymore because the lexile was too low. The grandma wanted to know what lexiles were and could I find a book he would be allowed to read. I suggested some nonfiction, but she said his mom wouldn't allow them because they had pictures. Gag!