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

And the winner in a copy of 'Celebrate Green!' is...

Thank you for all the participants in our giveaway of the book 'Celebrate Green' by by Corey Colwell-Lipson & Lynn Colwell we reviewed last Monday.

We got many comments with great ideas on how to green your holidays and celebrations. I found in these comments not only creativity, but also a lot of satisfaction and fun which are all important parts in making these green steps attractive to all the people who would like to go green on the holidays but fear that it involves a great effort or that it's much more expensive. The same lessons are of course integrated in the book and therefore makes it not only a great guide but also a great gift to family and friends!

And the winner in our giveaway is tiff, who wrote the following:
first, i've been making handmade items to give away as gifts such as knitted scarves, mittens and hats which is perfect for the upcoming winter season. i like to wrap the gifts in recycled newspaper and colorful ads from magazines or even fun sunday comic pages to make it more interesting!

Congrats tiff! As part of the giveaway, Eco-Libris will plant a tree for this book and we'll send tiff with the book our "One tree planted for this book" sticker.

And don't forget that if you buy the book on Celebrate Green! website, you will be offered to plant a tree with your copy of Celebrate Green!.

Raz @ Eco-Libris