CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 16. . . .December 20, 2013
Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home. (Orca Footprints).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
48 pp., hc. & pdf, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0223-0 (hc.) ISBN 978-1-4598-0224-7 (pdf).
Water quality management-Juvenile literature.
Water resources development-Juvenile literature.
Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.
Review by Sophia Hunter.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Around the world, people are talking about a water crisis. As both human population and industry grow, we need more and more fresh water. But climate change means water supplies are harder to predict. Technology that allows us to pump water out of aquifers means that many of them are emptying completely.
This engaging book takes on the important task of explaining clean drinking water to middle school students. It has two primary objectives: detailing the history of how humans have accessed drinking water around the world, as well as showing the challenges currently faced by different people to get safe drinking water. The writing style is a very accessible mixture of personal travel stories and interesting facts and feels like the author is talking directly to the reader.
There are lots of full-colour photographs. They are on a soft grey-brown background that gives the book the appearance of a well-done scrapbook on recycled paper. Although the colouring is purely cosmetic, it is a nice touch. The photos, which are spread throughout the book, support the text and all have accompanying captions. There is a Resources section, but the books and movies listed are not very recent or comprehensive. The web sites are more detailed for interested readers.
The text is organized into chapters, with individual headings. This is one of the book's weaker elements. The headings are based on puns or rhymes, an approach which makes it hard to decipher the content of each section. This will hinder ease of research use, which is disappointing as the content is good. There is a subsection called 'Go with the Flow' that tells interesting details about water usage that the author has witnessed during her travels. These enhance the text nicely and will encourage readers to think about work that they can do to improve access to water around the world. There are also 'Water Fact' captions which include a fact not necessarily related to the text, but interesting nonetheless. There is an index which should help to counter the poorly named chapters.
The main customers for this book will be classrooms and libraries. Some students may be particularly interested in this topic and read it for pleasure, but the primary use will be research. The promotional material suggests the book is appropriate for ages 8-12, but the language, subject matter and places (with no supporting maps) make the work better suited to the older range. The author deftly deals with the important topic of feces in water, humourously referring to it as 'poo' when necessary but without compromising the seriousness of the subject.
The author has traveled extensively and volunteered with several initiatives to improve access to water around the world and has written two other books in the "Orca Footprints" series on environmental issues for children, Pedal It! How Bicycles Are Changing the World and Brilliant! Shining a Light on Sustainable Energy.
It can be hard to find good books on sustainability issues for middle school students. This well-written book will be a welcome addition to any classroom or library collection. It will support any research on water usage and will be popular with students interested in getting involved with environmental issues.
Sophia Hunter is a teacher-librarian at Crofton House School in Vancouver, BC.
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