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Think: a book review of My Green Day by Melanie Walsh

Posted: March 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: picture books, reading, review | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The theme for March over at Love2Read is reading that makes you think.
A recent purchase for our library has got me thinking.

Melanie Walsh’s My green day : 10 green things I can do today is a picture book with a conscious. Illustrated and written by Walsh, this gorgeous book is made from 100% recycled material and chronicles the day of a lower primary school child. Appropriately basic text – “I help empty the washing machine and peg our clothes on the line” – leads the reader through this normal day, while beautiful, bold illustrations tell the story too. In my opinion, what sets this book apart from many enviro books for kids, is the author’s ability to facilitate discussions of environmental sustainability, without ruining the flow of the story, or preaching “thou shall crush then recycle your soda cans.”

This is largely due to Walsh’s clever inclusion of sentences in smaller font size which complement the plot, and educate the reader. These sentences contain an advanced vocabulary and theme, acting as optional discussion starters. Such passages are linear certainly, but wisely, they are also independent, and therefore could easily be left out for too young or too impatient an audience. For example, pages reading, “At school, I make presents for my grandma,” are illustrated playfully with patterned off-cuts of paper and fabrics from the classroom craft box. The illustrations tell how the child uses scraps of materials to create art. In smaller type the optional discussion starter reads: “Making a toy out of old material is fun and a great way to recycle.” Likewise, a full plate at lunchtime becomes empty as the large type reads, “At lunch… I eat up all my pasta.” The reader sees and hears the message to finish all their food. For further discussion, Walsh includes in smaller type: “We throw away one third of all the food we buy. If we bought only the food we actually needed to eat, we wouldn’t have to grow or transport so much food, which saves lots of energy.” So the book can be read with or without these ‘extra’ passages; especially because the illustrations are so successful in narrating the ‘green’ theme. It is a lovely likelihood that as the reader grows, the book will be revisited and the non-fiction, didactic angle will be made the focus.

Naturally, this clever style of writing leads itself to classroom discussions, and talks at home during story times. Of course, library staff and teachers will also use this book in a unit of study. It is important to note how with so many potential ‘teaching moments,’ this author is careful to not stuff environmentalism down the reader’s throat. Instead, opting to ‘have a green day’ seems like a totally fun option, so why wouldn’t the reader chose to live this way? With Walsh’s help, let’s hope we raise many green beings.

Walsh, M. (2010). My green day: 10 green things I can do today. London: Walker.

Other picture books that make me think


It’s raining posts!

Posted: January 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: blogging, picture books | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

<sung to the tune of “It’s raining men”> Hallelujah! It’s raining posts! Hey, HEY!

Tompkins Sq. Park by James Jowers from George Eastman House on Flickr.

So before November – and 2011! – completely fade into a distant memory, I thought I’d make sure you didn’t miss my most recent blog post.  Further to my guest post at Letters to a Young Librarian, I also contributed a piece to Read It 2011. Read It 2011 was a blog run by the NSW Readers’ Advisory Working Group. It was the online home of a monthly reading group that encouraged Australian (and all) library users to read and tweet about what they were reading. Monthly themes helped participants decide what they would read each month. I was stoked to be asked to contribute a piece for November :) As November was Movember and Picture Book Month, I wrote about picture books and depression: you can check it out here.

FYI: To celebrate the National Year of Reading in Australia, Read It 2011 has become Love2Read.