CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 14. . . .March 6, 2009
There's a Barnyard in My Bedroom.
David Suzuki. Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.
Vancouver, BC: Greystone Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 2008.
64 pp., hardcover, $22.95.
Natural history-Juvenile literature.
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Gillian Richardson.
"That sponge used to be an animal. It lived at the bottom of the ocean."
"We sure have a lot of things that come from nature."
"Can you think of anything that doesn't?"
"Plastics!" cries Jamie, pointing to the shower curtain. "Or it there a plastic tree?"
Dad laughs. "No, plastic comes from oil. But oil, gas, and coal come from plants that lived millions of years ago. The plants were buried for a very long time, and slowly they turned into oil, gas and coal."
"So maybe the plastic in my pen came from a tree that a dinosaur chomped on," says Jamie.
This picture book is proof that awareness of the total integration of human and natural worlds can be shared effectively through a marriage of fiction, fact and illustration. The story component is lightweight but works to merge the layers in the three chapters for an entertaining means of imparting a vital message. Follow youngsters Jamie and Megan as they discover, with Mom and Dad's help, how everything within their house and their yard—their world—is part of nature.
In the first chapter, inspection of everyday items—from food to furniture, clothes to dishes—reveals their common source. Next, the children explore the components and sensory contributions of air to life all around: how it feels, looks, and carries smells and sounds. In the third chapter, imagination takes the children into the past and future to understand how nature has evolved and is influenced by human activity.
An activity (and answers) page makes the book interactive, inviting the reader to think more about how the content applies on a personal level. Author David Suzuki has found a captivating way to involve young children in learning how to be good environmental citizens of Earth.
Illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes tell their own story. They leap (like lambs) across the pages, or spill (like farmyard animals) from an open refrigerator to make their points. Rich with details, they support the 'find and count' activities. They reach through the realities in the children's world to arouse active imaginations: the wooden table sprouts a tree apartment for many creatures, and the sponge from the ocean is seen within its habitat full of other marine dwellers. Illustrations are lively and boldly colored, for additional appeal.
There's a Barnyard in My Bedroom is a fun book that can be reread, actively mined for content and discussed for its meaning.
BC's Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer.
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