scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
Wangari's Trees of Peace is the inspiring true story of a woman who faced the destruction of her country's natural environment and decided to do something about it herself, and in the process empowered many of her fellow Kenyans to care for their own land.
Wangari faced many obstacles, and her work was slow going at times, but after decades of work, the movement she started has re-planted millions of trees and helped to enrich the environment and people's lives. Her story is definitely a valuable one to introduce children to -- one caveat is that one of the obstacles depicted in this particular book is Wangari being assaulted by a law enforcement officer, which parents/teachers might like to be aware of before reading. Otherwise, the text and illustrations are quite accessible to young children.
Wangari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work in sustainable development, human rights, and peace.
Scrounged From: Our local library
Author/Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Content Advisory: One scene shows Wangari being hit by a law enforcement officer, which may be disturbing for some children.
A Long Walk to Water tells the story of Salva, one of Sudan's "Lost Boys" who is forced to flee his village when violence breaks out. He then spends years walking through Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya, crossing rivers and desserts, spending some time in refugee camps just trying to survive. This story is fictionalized, but is based on the actual story of Salva Dut.
This narrative is interspersed with an almost-present-day story of Nya, who has to spend her entire morning walking to find water, and cannot go to school because of this. As the story progresses, these two narratives come together in a hopeful and redemptive conclusion. This book is an important look at some of the human cost in the Sudanese conflict, and brings these stories to life in a way that simple news reports cannot.
Scrounged From: PaperbackSwap.com
Author: Linda Sue Park
Content Advisory: Scenes of violence, though not graphically described, include characters being shot (and shot at), and killed in other ways. Loss, especially of family, is a consistent theme.
While sad and ultimately triumphant, Stepping Stones is made even more real by its close ties to current events, including the fact that Nizar Ali Badr, whose art has inspired so many, is a native of Syria. Though he has remained in his country, he says his heart is with the refugees who have needed to flee.
The story of how this book came to be is detailed in its introduction, but in short, the author came across a beautiful image of stone art by chance on social media, and went on a quest to track down the artist. She eventually found Nizar Ali Badr and was able to contact him via a friend who could translate their messages. He agreed to collaborate with the author on this book, which has now generated more than $60,000 to aid refugees in Canada, and includes an Arabic translation right below the English text.
I can't say I've ever seen a children's book with art this unique, but at the same time stones are a very tangible medium. Children's imaginations certainly don't need a huge technological production in order to be inspired, and the texture and depth apparent in these images can convey so much to all of us on a basic level -- fear, loss, love, determination.
Many of the images feature people journeying as the text recounts a story of a refugee family fleeing war and death, and seeking peace. The story in this book is detailed enough to portray characters with names and specific memories, but general enough to be applicable to many different times and places, thus showing a universal aspect of refugee journeys -- many human families yearning for peace.
Scrounged From: Our local library
Author: Margriet Ruurs
Illustrator: Nizar Ali Badr
Content Advisory: There is mention of war and death (sans details) -- one image depicts people in a boat while others are in the water.
I think I'd have to give Trash Revolution: Breaking the Waste Cycle a positive rating even if it was only because of the number of times it inspired me to type the randomest things into Google to find out more about them: edible/compostable spoons, Suzanne Lee (growing her own fabric!), Landfill Harmonic (instruments made from trash!), The Ocean Cleanup, and more.
This book is organized into several sections that cover some of the most common things you might find in a typical backpack, such as food, paper, clothes, electronics, etc. It then details how most of the materials are produced, and what typically happens to them after they are discarded, as well as lots of statistics along the way. The "how it's made" part was pretty interesting to me, as well as information about which materials can be recycled, and to what extent (I didn't realize there was a limit to the number of times some materials can be recycled, whereas things like glass can be recycled an indefinite number of times).
While the book clearly has an agenda devoted to promoting less waste, I don't think that's such a bad agenda, and I didn't find the tone preachy or heavy-handed. The text is laid out well, covering the major points in small sections, and also highlighting interesting people and organizations that are devoted to reducing their waste production. There are also lots of illustrations, which are especially helpful during the multistep descriptions of material production.
Although sources aren't "cited," there is a list of further resources at the end, as well as an index. Here or there I questioned some information -- for example, on page 13 we're told that "organic" food means it's "grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides" -- while I'm quite sure that organic crops can still use pesticides, and all of them are made of chemicals.
But overall this was a well organized tour of the "waste cycle" that many of us are a large part of, and an inspiring look at how much less wasteful we could be, and should try to be.
(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)
Scrounged From: NetGalley
Author: Erica Fyvie
Illustrator: Bill Slavin
Content Advisory: None