Peculiar Picks

Peculiar Picks are a selection of odd, funny, interesting, curious, moving, irreverent, and otherwise wonderfully awesome, but perhaps not well known, reads. Peculiar Picks are books for younger readers and their grown-ups, handpicked by the Library's Youth Services Manager, Joshua Carlson.

Earth Day is celebrated annually in April. Here are some Peculiar Picks to celebrate, as well as to reflect on the importance of our planet and to perhaps begin making a difference for the betterment of the Earth. We truly live in a wonderful world, let’s keep it that way.

Click here for more Earth Day recommended reading and activities from the Library.

What a Wonderful World based on the song by Bob Thiele & George David Weiss as sung by Louis Armstrong, illustrated by Tim Hopgood
eBook / Library Catalog
In my last Peculiar Picks, I highlighted some positive and uplifting picture books based on songs by Bob Marley & the Wailers, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Here’s another delightful picture book featuring the words of one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. What a Wonderful World has an important message encouraging us to remember just how precious the Earth is, as well as everything that exists within it. It’s a moment to reflect on simple joys, love, the beauty all around us, and how we and nature are all connected in this wonderful world.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
eBook / Library Catalog / animated film on Hoopla
Peter Brown’s beautiful and moving book shows the importance of people acting as stewards of the environment. While a small plot of neglected garden has been surviving in the polluted and bleak city, with the intervention of young Liam it thrives. That simple act of caring for nature changes the entire world to a happier, brighter, colorful, and healthier place. Filled with Brown’s gorgeous illustrations, The Curious Garden is a simple, but powerful look at the importance of plants and nature in our lives. Get started gardening with this simple STEAM at Home project I posted on Earth Day last year which reuses plant scraps to grow new plants.

The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton
Library Catalog / Hoopla
While featuring a bit of fantasy, The Secret of Black Rock is a moving story of a young girl trying to make a difference to understand the natural world, about prejudice and fear of the unknown, and about the wonders of our world. Is “The Black Rock” any more fantastical than some of the incredible things we have actually discovered on Earth – in the rainforests, in the depths of the ocean? Young Erin befriends it, stands up for it, and in doing so teaches her community to look beyond the surface of things and to work with the environment instead of against it.

Greta and the Giants by Zoë Tucker, illustrated by Zoe Persico
eBook / Library Catalog
As a real-life young person taking on climate change, politics, governments and corporations, Greta Thunberg is a role model for young people to be activists and changemakers. What I like about this book is that it creates the metaphor of “giants” to represent for children the terrible, powerful things – concepts that may be harder to grasp than that of a monstrous giant – that Greta is standing up against in our real world. As Greta says, “No one is too small to make a difference.”

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Library Catalog / Hoopla
Messner and Forsythe present a compelling and beautifully illustrated story of coral reefs and their importance through the life of Ken Nedimyer. Nedimyer was a young boy who loved the ocean and who grew up to be an environmentalist working to save the coral reefs from destruction. The book shows how through care for the environment, ingenuity and people working together Nedimyer created a movement that seeks to restore and grow the reefs around the world. Nedimyer’s story demonstrates to readers that one person really can make a difference.

The Water Princess by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
eBook / Library Catalog
Like Greta and the Giants, The Water Princess can be a call to action for young people as it is another true story about a young person and her actions. It may even be a wake-up call: demonstrating how something basic, such as drinking water, which a child here in our country may take for granted, is such an important and necessary, yet complicated and hard, part of life for some people. Readers may also realize that taking care of our planet by ensuring clean drinking water is necessary for the well-being of everyone.

Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet by Kate Parkhurst
Library Catalog
Learn about some real-life women – scientists, entrepreneurs, activists and more – who through their actions have worked to support the Earth and the natural world. In addition to having fun illustrations and lots of information on each woman presented, I especially enjoy that this book introduces readers to quite a number of lesser-known individuals.

Hello Earth!: Poems to Our Planet by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora
eBook / Library Catalog
Since April is also National Poetry Month, this recently published book of poems highlighting the wonders of our planet seemed appropriate, and it is also filled with gloriously beautiful accompanying paintings. Find some more great reads, activities and programs for National Poetry Month here.

What is So Important About the Earth Anyway?

Learning more about the planet, how it works, and all of its awesomeness will help to inspire care and activism for the environment, on Earth Day and every day.

The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth: Understanding Our World and Its Ecosystems by Rachel Ignotofsky
Library Catalog
I’m a huge fan of oversized, lavishly illustrated nonfiction, such as The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth. This book has tons of information about Earth, and why it is so important to keep the planet healthy. From the water and carbon cycles, to exploring various ecosystems, to Rachel Ignotofsky’s illustrations, the book will illuminate, educate and entrance.

Precious Planet: a User’s Manual for Curious Earthlings by Emmanuelle Figueras, illustrated by Sarah Tavernier and Alexandre Verhille
Library Catalog
Another oversized marvel that is absolutely jam-packed with facts and figures in a cool infographic style using the concept of “Earth as Home” and examining the “rooms” of that house to provide information.

Destination: Planet Earth by Jo Nelson, illustrated by Tom Clohosy Cole
Library Catalog
A final oversized gorgeous piece of nonfiction, published by one of my favorites in the industry for producing beautiful nonfiction, Wide-Eyed Editions (an imprint of Quarto Knows). In addition to being a wealth of information about the planet itself, Destination: Planet Earth also includes several pages that look at human impact on the Earth and how we can work to mitigate that impact. The book is a joy to read and look at and does a very interesting thing with its illustrations: it centers a diverse group of kids in the illustrations, showing their role in learning about the Earth and caring for the Earth, and how important understanding how the Earth works is to doing that.

Get Outside, Discover the Earth, and Help the Planet!

What better way to create an appreciation for the Earth than to experience it? Here are two books filled with STEAM activities to explore the world and two to get young environmentalists working on positive change.

Outdoor Science Lab for Kids: 52 family-friendly experiments for the yard, garden, playground and park by Liz Lee Heinecke
Library Catalog
I think all of the “Lab for Kids” books by Quarry Books (another imprint of Quarto Knows) are fantastic. Each book in the series provides straightforward and easy to follow projects and experiments, along with plenty of information to explain the “why” behind the activity, whether it is the artist who made a movement popular or the scientific principles at work. Outdoor Science Lab for Kids is no exception with cool, interesting, engaging, fun and very educational projects laid out with easy to follow instructions and photographs showing the steps and process.

Nature Play Workshop for Families: a guide to 40+ outdoor learning experiences in all seasons by Monica Wiedel-Lubinski and Karen Madigan
eBook / Library Catalog
Nature Play Workshop for Families is a fantastic guide book for a wide range of nature experiences and learning opportunities for kids and families.

23 Ways to be an Eco-Hero by Isabel Thomas
Library Catalog
A selection of really do-able action items and projects for kids to help the environment.

Earth Day Links

And here are some links for Earth Day activities to further explore, support and protect our wonderful world:

Categories: Authors & Books, Featured, Homepage Kids, Kids, and Library News.

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