Nature-nurturing books for young readers

Though Earth Day 2014 has come and gone, every day is a great day for sharing with children books on nature and the environment. Especially picture books the kids will not only enjoy but possibly — no, probably — learn a little from.

Last week I received four fantastic picture books, free for review from Candlewick Press. The colorful and creative stories perfectly complement, perhaps even encourage, conversations related to the myriad environmental issues that are top of mind for kids and adults in the weeks surrounding Earth Day and beyond.

Take a peek:


E-I-E-I-O! How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Matthew Myers ($16.99, ages 4-8). This colorful, whimsical book tells the tale of Old MacDonald who once upon a time had not a farm but a yard that needed mowing. As he didn't like to mow, he's joined by Little Red Hen, "the smartest hen in history," who help him — much to the dismay of the community — add the ingredients to turn the yard into a produce-yielding garden. Little Red Hen tosses in paper, cardboard, dirt; "Mac tossed in his socks and shirt." Kids will surely chuckle at the hen's cluck for "Who will help me find some poop?" and the accompanying illustration. Readers of all ages will cheer Old MacDonald's successful crop that fills his garden cart and delights his previously scornful neighbors.


Little Pear Tree

Little Pear Tree by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Jenny Bowers ($14.99, 3-7 years) Young book lovers especially love flap books, and this one — with 25 flaps to lift and peer behind — will appeal to older readers, too, as it's uniquely stylish and sweet. Atmospheric illustrations complement the quiet story of one little pear tree, followed from winter through the seasons and back again to winter. Little (and big) hands will seek out the cleverly camouflaged flaps and find behind them the illustrations and names of creatures and concepts highlighting plants, animals and the environment surrounding the pear tree throughout the year.


The Promise

The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin ($16.99, ages 5-9) I've mentioned in previous picture-book reviews that I often find one or two in the batch that simply make me want to hug them because they touch my heart so. The Promise is the huggable book in this batch. The illustrations are muted to match the quiet power of this tale that begins in "a city that was mean and hard and ugly" narrated by a girl who admits "my heart was as shriveled as the dead trees in the park." The girl attempts to snatch an old woman's bag, but the woman gives it up only in exchange for a promise. As the promise — which I won't reveal — is played out, shoots of green improve cities, the value of nature is revealed and hearts are changed. A lovely book I dare you to resist hugging.


 Flight of the Honey Bee

Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock ($16.99, ages 3 and up) Bee lovers and future biologists — as well as their read-along adults — will be intrigued by this wondrous story of "one of the smallest creatures in the world, but it may be the most important for life on earth." Important because honey bees pollinate the planet. The honey bee featured here is Scout, "a bee the size of a cherry pit," who sets out on a critical mission to find the field of flowers her sister bees will access to keep their hive alive through the winter. The colorful illustrations and suspense-filled story keep readers intrigued, while the many tidbits of bee trivia keep one and all informed. Did you know bees are furry — including their eyeballs? That tidbit and many more accompany Scout's fascinating story in this bee-yootiful book. (Hey, I couldn't resist.)

For more information on these and other picture books on nature and more, visit Candlewick Press.

Disclosure: I received these books free for review; opinions are my own.

Today's question:

What is one of your favorite books — for kids or adults — on nature, animals or the environment?