Let’s Save Antarctica

Let’s Save Antarctica: Why We Must Protect Our Planet
Catherine Barr and Jean Claude
Walker Books

This book is an urgent plea from author Catherine Barr and illustrator Jean Claude for readers and listeners to help in the vital task of protecting our precious planet, in particular Antarctica from climate change and plastic pollution, and all that means.

That vast white continent covering the South Pole – the most extreme environment on earth – is home to millions of Emperor penguins as well as safe waters for the enormous whales that live in the depths of the surrounding Southern Ocean. Losing these, thus far tough survivors just doesn’t bear thinking about, but think about it we must.

Penguins though are just some of the awesome inhabitants of the vast icy wilderness, for eons ago it was home to dinosaurs, and fossils, footprints, teeth and ginormous bones have been discovered by scientists investigating the ancient volcanic ash of the Antarctic sea floor.

Other scientists have and still are investigating what Antarctica can reveal about how earth’s climate – the temperatures and wind patterns – have changed over hundreds and thousands of years.

But what are the secrets to the survival of the flora and fauna of this extreme environment? Yes they are all protected in this our last great wilderness.

However, it’s something biologists are studying while others are looking at what allows deep sea life to survive.

So too is the crucial work that scientists are doing to monitor the effects and speed of climate change, Antarctica’s greatest risk of all, and something that will also have a huge impact on all of our lives.

You don’t have to be a scientist to contribute to the saving of Antarctica and the final spread comprises things that we can all do to stop plastic pollution in the ocean and help slow down climate change. What Catherine has written will surely spark action to protect this incredible place; it’s up to us …

The Wide, Wide Sea

The Wide, Wide Sea
Anna Wilson and Jenny Lovlie
Nosy Crow

Skilfully woven together are wild swimmer and author Anna Wilson’s lyrical narrative and Jenny Lovlie’s gorgeous detailed illustrations in this picture book with a vitally important message about plastic pollution.

Gran and the child narrator love to visit the sea together, spending time exploring the flora and fauna along the shoreline and seeing what treasures the waves have thrown up. Most exciting though is their sighting of a seal: the child imagines being a seal too

and when it disappears, sits watching the sea birds until a violent storm blows in and Gran says it’s time to head home.

Next morning the beach looks awful – ‘Wild, Broken. Messy.’ and strewn with litter. The sky ‘sulky dove-grey’ and the air ‘quiet and frowning.’ Who or what has created this havoc? And can it be fixed? …

Happily yes in this story; but what really needs to happen is every one of us must accept their responsibility for plastic pollution and, for the sake of the environment, sea creatures such as the seal especially, take their rubbish home.

Published in collaboration with The National Trust who protect over 700 miles of wild coastline in the UK this is a must have book for primary classes to share, discuss and act upon its message.

Stella and the Seagull

Stella and the Seagull
Georgina Stevens and Izzy Burton
Oxford Children’s Books

Young Stella (5¾) lives with her Granny Maggie in a flat beside the sea where a little seagull visits them frequently, often bringing a small gift. Lately though, rather than such things as shells and pebbles all her gifts are plastic rubbish of one kind or another, including a wrapper from Stella’s favourite chocolate bar.

Then one day, the little seagull fails to visit and concerned about her absence, Stella and her Gran go down to the beach and look for her. What they see is troubling: the poor bird looks sick.

Off they go to the vets right away where the vet takes an x-ray of the seagull and tells Stella that the bird has consumed a lot of plastic and shows her the alarming picture.

Leaving the seagull in the care of the vet, Stella realises that the beach must be where the bird found the plastic and so she and her Granny start picking up the litter, soon admitting that there’s far too much for them alone to collect. Then a poster gives Stella a great idea – “a Beach Clean Party” and as soon as they get home they set to work poster making. Before long, notices about the beach clean are all over the town.

Back home Stella spots the address of the chocolate company on a wrapper and decides to write to them, mentioning what has happened to the seagull and inviting them to the beach clean up party.

When she and her Gran go to post the letter it’s evident that lots of other people are also concerned about the seagull and many of the shops have stopped selling plastic items. But will they join the beach clean up and what about the Delicious Chocolate Company?

Let’s just say that one small passionate girl has galvanised not only her community but a manufacturing company to take action and make a BIG difference.

Written by sustainability advisor and campaigner, Georgina Stevens and wonderfully illustrated by Izzy Burton whose use of vignettes, single, and double page spreads make readers feel fully immersed in the story, this is a lovely demonstration of community power in action that will surely inspire young listeners to get involved in making change happen, especially with regard to single use plastic.

Definitely one to add to family bookshelves and classroom collections.

Turtle Rescue

Turtle Rescue
Jonny Marx and Xuan Le
Little Tiger

I suspect the burgeoning of picture books telling of the plastic pollution of the oceans is indicative that the problem is on many people’s minds. Sadly though, not those who continue to throw rubbish onto the beaches or in the sea. One can but hope that Jonny Marx and Xuan Le’s Turtle Rescue will help in this hugely important environmental cause.

Flora, marine biologist and ace underwater swimmer, Fauna, inventor and turtle lover, and their child, Baby Bud, are holidaying at the seaside intending to take it easy for a while. That isn’t what happens however.

Soon they find themselves helping with a rubbish collection during which they’re told it’s hoped it will help bring back the turtles to lay their eggs on the sandy beach once more. Before long the three of them have packed supplies, chartered a boat and are sailing off to investigate the lack of turtles.

As they sail towards the reef, Bud is excited to see all the different sea animals and plants and keeps pointing out what he calls ‘jellyfish’ – the floating plastic bags he insists on counting. Eventually Flora sights a turtle

and carefully follows it until she runs out of air. Back on board the boat again, it’s obvious a storm is looming but eventually it blows itself out and there ahead is an island. Just the place to stop and let Fauna’s queasiness subside. Imagine their delight when Bud notices tracks in the sand leading right across the dunes at the end of which are …

After an eventful and hugely exciting trip, with sail duly repaired, it’s time to head home.

There’s an amazing amount of information about turtles and other marine wildlife packed between the pages of this fascinating part fact, part fiction book.

The Tale of the Whale

The Tale of the Whale
Karen Swann and Padmacandra
Scallywag Press

Karen Swann’s lyrical story begins with a child on a lighthouse spying a whale out at sea, a whale whose sweet-sounding song calls the child to climb aboard its back and join it on an amazing marine adventure.

An adventure through marine waters that turns from the utter heartfelt joy at seeing the incredible life under the ocean – the stunning colours, the octopus,

turtles, rays, dolphins and more to shock horror and understanding when the whale opens wide its mouth to eat.

This is followed by sadness and, once back on land, a determination to tell others and an earnest plea from the young storyteller to be part of the change. It’s a plea that will surely galvanise youngsters and adults alike to work together on this crucial environmental problem caused by plastic pollution.

Padmacandra’s illustrations are truly gorgeous capturing both the friendship between child and majestic animal, and the richness and vibrancy of the oceans’ fauna. This is the debut picture book for both author and illustrator and it’s one where words and pictures work in perfect harmony. The observant among readers and listeners will spot the point in the story when plastic starts to be included in the subaquatic scenes.