We usually do adult book reviews, but thought we’d try something new with this issue and look at environmentally oriented books through the eyes of talented youth who obviously enjoy reading.
The Rainstick, A Fable by Sandra Chisholm Robinson (40 pages)
Book Review by Mary Grace Hull (age 11)
The story takes you to a place of beauty in Africa. You see natural places such as a savannah and a rainforest. The chief’s son goes on a journey to find rain to help end the village’s drought. I like the riddle the boy tries to solve: “a slender staff touches earth and sky at the same time.” On the journey he tries to solve the riddle so rain will fall back at his village.
At the end of the book, there are instructions on how to make a rainstick. I’ve made a rainstick before and I think other kids would like to make one too. The directions were detailed, and the pictures were quite delightful. I think Africa would be an interesting place to visit. I would recommend this book for kids 7 – 11.
The Sea, the Storm and the Mangrove Tangle by Lynne Cherry (36 pages)
Book Review by Katie Hull (age 11)
This story is about the life cycle of a mangrove. It starts with a propagule floating in the sea, which lands on a lagoon and starts to grow slowly. Over many years the propagule grows into a mangrove island where fish and birds come to live. You see wildlife such as fiddler crabs, mangrove oysters, seahorses, periwinkle tree snails, anole lizards, manatees, birds and much more. The illustrations are colorful and very detailed.
At the end of the book, a hurricane comes and the fish, birds and other wildlife hide in the roots. When the storm passes, a small propagule seed floats out to sea. The animals come out after the storm and live happily in the mangrove tree that protected them.
I read this book in 5th grade because we were doing a science project on mangroves, and they were really interesting. I like the maps on the front and back covers showing where mangroves are all over the world. I would recommend this book for kids 6–10.
Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby (255 pages)
Book Review by Hannah Hull (age 13)
This book kept me on the edge of my seat with its various plot-twists and suspenseful climax. It all started off with a 13-year old girl named Sarah, who thought running away from her group on a field trip to take an air-boat ride with a strange boy was a good idea. To make matters worse, Andy a.k.a. the strange boy, forgot to check the boat pre-expedition, which caused it to sink at the most unhelpful time in the middle of the Everglades.
Imagine being stuck in the middle of one of nature’s most unforgiving environments, with nothing but a knife, a small amount of Gatorade, and expired Spam. To make matters worse, you are sharing your limited resources with the person who got you into the whole mess. This book is a great example of the classic survival genre, which falls into the category with other books such as Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain. Sarah and Andy’s adventure-turned-disaster not only gives you a million reasons not to go unprepared into one of Florida’s most wonderful natural resources, but also teaches you a lesson about trust. Once she got herself into this situation, the only thing left to do was trust Andy to lead her to safety. Sarah, being exceptionally stubborn, had a very hard time with this. But hey, in the end all good prevailed.
I enjoyed the story, bad choices and all. I would recommend this book for kids ages 12–14.