Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday's green books series: The Polar Bears' Home (and a great giveaway!)

Last September we announced on our collaboration with Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing in an educational contest - I CAN SAVE THE EARTH!. This was in a celebration of their new line of eco-friendly children’s books, Little Green Books.

During the time of the contest (you can participate until December 1st, 2008 - see more details here) we review the first four books that were published so far. So far we reviewed Little Monkey and Little Panda, and today we have the pleasure to present you with the third green little book.

Our book for today is: The Polar Bears' Home: A Story About Global Warming

Author: Lara Bergen

Illustrated by: Vincent Nguyen

Ages: 4 - 6

Description: Come along on an Arctic adventure with a little girl and her father and learn all about polar bears! This 8 x 8 storybook shows how global warming affects two baby polar bear cubs and their family. Includes tips for kids on what they can do to help slow down global warming. This 8 x 8 paperback book is perfect-bound and will be printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper with soy-ink. The paper is FSC certified.

I e
njoyed this book so much that I decided I need to talk to the author, Lara Bergen (see photo below), to learn more about her work on the book, which I find a great combination of text and illustrations that together creates one of the smartest and enjoyable green books for kids I read lately. Lara agreed to share her thoughts with us and here is the full interview with her:

Can you tell us about yourself and what inspired you to write this book?

I've written many books for children, but not a lot of nonfiction. When Simon & Schuster presented me with the idea of writing about an ecosystem in trouble, I immediately thought of the Arctic (I think the movie Arctic Tale had just come out, and the Global Warming crisis's effect on the polar bears' habitat was frequently in the news). And, of course, no one can deny that polar bear cubs make extremely appealing subjects for children's books!

What did you learn about polar bears during the writing process?

I learned so much! I knew that polar bears hunted seals, but I had no idea how. And I had no idea they had to travel such great distances and hunt so much over the course of the winter and are so relatively inactive during the summer (the opposite of most black and brown bears we know).

You managed to write a beautiful optimistic story for kids that is actually a very sad story with no certain happy ending - how do you do it?

Well, what else can you do? Unfortunately, we can't undo the past, we can only look forward--and I really didn't want to scare or depress readers--but more inspire them to try to take care of the Earth and its inhabitants from this point on as best they can.

Unlike many other children's books about the environment, you keep a very realistic tone through all the story which keeps it very real - was it your intention in the first place?

Yes, definitely. I wanted to give the reader a sense of immediacy to the subject matter--and a situation which is all too real.

What is the main lesson you want children to learn from this story?

That the Earth is truly warming up and truly threatening the survival of this wonderful, iconic species--and we simply have to do as much as we can to reverse the trend.

Did you get already feedbacks from children on the book? how do they find it?

No, I haven't.

I like the dad figure: he gives his daughter all the information she needs, portrays reality in a very balanced way, even if when the truth is inconvenient, and doesn't try to 'sell' her a fake shiny description of life. Do you believe all parents should adopt such approach?

Yes, I think they have to. Children are too insightful, and ask too many questions not to. Of course, you don't want to scare them--but parents need to appreciate that with the right approach, children are actually empowered by the truth.

Do you believe kids can make a difference in our world?

I certainly hope so! There was just an article in the Times about children demanding more environmental responsibility from their parents, and taking more upon themselves. Kids can make some difference now...and hopefully a lot of difference in the future!

How important to you was the fact that the book walks the talk, is printed on recycled paper and is part of a wider effort to educate children about green issues?

That's definitely a good start. (Of course, the more locally they can be printed, and the less shipped, the better, too.)

What's your next book is going to be about? are you planning to write more green-themed books for children in the future?

Actually, right now I'm working on an early fictional chapter book series (coming out 2010) - and I have an idea for a green-themed title within it. I hope to do many more!


Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing are giving away one package of the 4 books published so far in the Little Green Books line: Little Panda, Little Monkey, I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle and The Polar Bears' Home: A Story About Global Warming.

This is a great prize and firstly we thank Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing for it! How do you get a chance to win this prize? please add a comment below with an answer for the following question: do you prefer a realistic tone in a children's story that deals with environmental issues or you're for a lighter tone? if you have stories from your own experience with your kids that would be great.

Submissions are accepted until Sunday, November 9, 12PM EST. We will pick the comment we liked best and the winner will be announced the following day.

More relevant links:

Raz @ Eco-Libris


Kimberly said...

Oh bummer... first never wins. Oh well.

I have to answer "both". It all depends on which child and what the topic is. My daugther likes the more realistic approach to enviromental issues where my younger son likes a more light hearted approach otherwise he'll get all upset and stressed out over things.

My daughter is big on saving Polar Bears ever since she saw a documentary on TV about how teh Polar Bears are going to become extinct because we are killing their enviroment. Since then she has been big on Polar Bears and refers all types of enviromental things to the Polar Bears.

Thanks for a great giveaway!

HunnyV "at" Optonline "dot" net

Jenna said...

I prefer a book that deals with environmental issues simply because I find them so informative and important. The environmental issues that face us today need to be addressed starting from a very early age. After all, it is going to affect our children down the line. Thanks for the great giveaway!

windycindy said...

I think one needs a nice balance of reality and make believe! Children can be too hung up on something and need to enjoy the subject, also! I do like how your Father/Daughter team deal with each other about the Polar Bears. I would appreciate being entered in this drawing for the fantastic children's books. Many thanks, Cindi

Miss Spoken said...

I have to agree ... a blend of both is ideal. I think it all depends on the age and personality of the kid. I myself prefer a little bit more realism.

Kristie said...

I'd prefer a lighter tone for my 1 and 2 year old.

khmorgan_00 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Abby said...

I prefer realistic but I don't want to give my kids nightmares either!

ajcmeyer AT go DOT com

Cheri said...

For children aged 8 or younger, I'd like to see something that tackles the major concepts in a playful way. For older children, I think a character they can firmly relate to and an applied emphasis (what can they do at home, in their neighborhood, at school, etc.) are important.

Anonymous said...

A book that is somewhat nerve-wracking yet inspirational at the same time can be very powerful. As a child I remember reading Zoobooks and, while helping me learn all about animals, it also taught me many animals are losing habitat, being poached, and suffering from pollution and now global warming.

I continue to be inspired and always strive my best to do things with the least impact to help out all animals; books such as this can do the same.

Stephanie said...

Depends on the age and EQ of the child. For younger ones, a lighter tone but still a serious undertone. For older children, reality is best. The bottom line is global warming is not going away and our children will see its effects much more than we will. As such, they need to be informed to make change.
tvollowitz at aol dot com

Bettina said...

It would actually depend on the child, so I would have to choose a happy-medium of both!

Crystal Adkins said...

Right now I prefer the lighter tones with the realistic tones as well. My son is 2 and I want him to know what things are and what can really happen... yet at the same time I don't want to feel like an enforcer... if that makes sense :)

Anonymous said...

For my preschool-aged daughter, a lighter tone is necessary for the message to come through without terrifying her (It scares me!) However, for my eight year old nephew, who is especially intelligent, I believe he would appreciate a frank discussion about the world he lives in.

Anonymous said...

I think there needs to be a conscious mix of reality with some make believe to balance it in a way that still presents the facts but isn't scary or disheartening. I try to explain environmental issues to my 3-year-old in terms she can understand, but I don't sugar-coat the truth, either :) Email: jennae {at} greenyourdecor {dot} com

Laura said...

I like a mix of tones. My daughter is 2 1/2 and she most often gravitates to the lighter stories but every once in a while she'll pick up one of the more serious, more fact-filled books and enjoys those too. And I'm sure the balance will change as she gets older.

Lisa said...

Lighter tones at least for younger children.

Unknown said...

I prefer a lighter tone as I know that is what my son would pay more attention to.

moushka said...

Both. Lighter with my 2yo daughter and realistic with my 6yo daughter.

Football and Fried Rice said...

I would prefer the lighter tone. Something no too text-booky (I know that's not a word!) we home school ane love to use life books & teach about real events in history and real problems that we are facing, but it doesn't have to be dry! This line looks fun AND informative!

PS said...

I think it really depends on the age. My 3 year old is just starting to love to learn about animals and how they really live, but my 2 year old would much rather read Dr. Suess or Goodnight Moon!

cathyhall said...

The only 'green/ environmental' books I have has quite a realistic, serious tone.

Its called All The Way To the Ocean - my son is only 3 but he loves the facts in the book and loves pointing out storm drains! We were even in the park today and he wanted a 'grabber' to start picking up the trash. - this is all from the book!

thanks for the giveaway, the book looks great.

PsychMamma said...

I think I would choose a lighter tone right now for my daughter who's almost three. As she gets older, it would be nice to add in some with a more serious/realistic tone.

This is fabulous giveaway! Thanks for the chance!

RebekahC said...

I think there's a time and a place for both types of books. Me myself, I'm not a big environmentalist. I do what I can, but I'm not going to bend over backwards either. I'm trying to be more environmentally consciencious though, and I think books like these can maybe be a good way to draw parents and children together to work a united front at learning and changing their habits for the better. So, while I wouldn't want all books to have a real serious tone, I think there's a certain demographic and place for this kind of book. It's nice to have the lighter reads as well too though.

Thanks for the entry. I'd really love to win this set for my girls.


miller lawn service said...

I like the idea of a lighter tone. I think there are ways to communicate serious issues in lighter ways so that they make more sense to kids.

Anonymous said...

I think talking about environmental issues is really important. It would help the younger generation become aware and already start to think about what they can do to make this world a better place. All of us can do our part, this would be a great way to introduce to your little one why you use reusable bags and recycle and try to eat vegetarian. Definitely a great compliment to everyday lifestyles. I think this would be great for my youngest niece because her older sister is trying to be more eco-friendly. It would be a great way for them to bond more with such a huge age gap between them. Thanks.

Mary A said...

I think a lot would depend upon the age of your child, but in general I would lean toward the more realistic. I think if a child understands that something is really a problem they might be encouraged to do make choices that are more environmentally friendly. This definitely needs to tempered in someway though since we don't want our children to be afraid.

Unknown said...

I prefer a little of both. Of course, that depends on the age. My 3yo seems to respond fairly well to a somber, but not dismal explanation. We read a book called Michael Recycle that has a lighter tone which we tend to try to make a tad more serious.

Anonymous said...

I think we can still get the message out by using a lighter tone for children.

Elaine R

megan said...

I think children relate better to a mix of both. Wasn't that the thoght behind fabels.

katrina berg said...

Thx for the links at the end of this post :). So you won't like my answer, but I prefer a lighter tone for my toddlers and young-uns who are eating up everything in life quietly, but when they get a bit older I'd like to read more books to them that offer more realism. Books are so powerful, story-telling to teach important topics will always have the attention of a child. I love reading lesson/moral teaching books to my kiddos and talking about matter how small the discussion! :)

Crunchy Green Mom - Suzanne said...

I would have to say both. I like lighter for my younger children and a bit more intensive for my older children.

Great book!


Anonymous said...

I prefer a light tone. If you tell a child the world is going to be burning hot in a few years, they'll feel like it's the case already and will be anxious about it. Better put it a bit nicely, in a way that will still make them aware of the environment and the necessity to protect it. == internationalfreebies AT gmail DOT com

sweetsue said...

I don't like to worry children to much, at their age there is not a lot they can do. I think a light tone is best, it still gets the point across and they can still ask questions without being frightened.
smchester at gmail dot com

Marissa said...

I would have to say lighter tones because my daugther is a bit younger and I would have to say she would better follow it and pay attention more :)

Ginny said...

I like balance, so like I little bit of both. I guess I prefer a lighter tone, with real issues mixed in for some added education, etc.

Rockin' Mama said...

I think for younger kids, like my son it's better to have a lighter tone. I really think it depends on the child and their level of understanding and maturity
jasonncaryn at yahoo dot com

designHER Momma said...

well....for kids, I think lighter is better.

as an adult...sock it to me, tell me like it is. but for kids, lets keep it on the light side.

great giveaway! This green mama would love to put these books under the tree this christmas.

gracey said...

tips on how to take care of our environment are cool. we should all take part in this. we only have one world to live in.

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