Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming
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Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming

by Jan Reynolds
     
 

On the island of Bali in Southeast Asia, rice farming is a way of life. The people live in tune with the natural rhythms and cycles of the water and the soil. Ingrained in their community and culture, rice farming connects them to the land and one another.

Balinese farmers have planted rice using an intricate system of water sharing and crop rotation for more

Overview

On the island of Bali in Southeast Asia, rice farming is a way of life. The people live in tune with the natural rhythms and cycles of the water and the soil. Ingrained in their community and culture, rice farming connects them to the land and one another.

Balinese farmers have planted rice using an intricate system of water sharing and crop rotation for more than a thousand years. Intertwined with their spiritual, social, and day-to-day lives, this system has made Bali a leading producer of one of the world's most important crops. And because Balinese rice farming respects the balances of nature, it serves as a remarkable example of sustainable agriculture in an increasingly industrialized world.

With lush photographs and captivating text, Jan Reynolds explores the traditional world of rice farming on the beautiful island of Bali. Readers of all ages will come away with an enhanced awareness of how we farm, eat, and live today, and the effects these practices have on the world of tomorrow.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Joella Peterson
The purpose of this book is twofold: first, it explains the growth cycle of rice; second, it explains why it is better to grow rice in a more natural way—specifically growing rice in Bali. The author explains where Bali is (although the map of Indonesia does not appear until the second to last page of the book) and how Bali is one of the world's best rice producers. People in Bali have been growing rice for centuries by using an "intricate water system" and a "network of temples where water ceremonies take place." Once the water comes through this water system, it is flooded into the rice fields. After harvesting the rice, the fields are left fallow and ducks are herded across them to eat bugs that would be harmful to future crops. Then the author explains how the Indonesian government started a program called the "Green Revolution." In this revolution, the Balinese people no longer farmed according to tradition. Pesticides and high turn-over became the standard to grow more rice. However, the author is quick to point out all the flaws in the government's plan: the rice harvest was not as strong, chemicals changed the land, bugs destroyed more crops, lack of networking among the farmers, etc. All-in-all this was an informative book; however, the end felt at times more like a long-winded sermon about natural resources and the stupidity of some government programs than a nonfiction book about rice farming. Reviewer: Joella Peterson
School Library Journal

Gr 3-5

This slim book is filled with lovely color photographs showing the people of Bali, ancient water temples, and rice in every stage of growth. It begins with an overview of the customs governing the use of water and explaining how community cooperation within the water temple system ensured that each farm got enough water to produce a plentiful harvest. The book then shows how rice was (and is) grown in Bali using traditional methods involving a fallow period and ducks. Reynolds discusses the consequences of the imposition of modern agricultural practices, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, on the crop, and the resulting drop in production. The final part explains how American anthropologist J. Stephen Lansing analyzed how the water temple system and traditional farming methods were more effective than the modern practices and convinced the Indonesian government to allow farmers to return to the old ways. While the text occasionally oversimplifies the subject, it does provide a fine overview of a classic anthropological study and a strong argument for sustainable farming practices. Back matter includes three Web sites, although two of them are dead links. Given the dearth of books on the topic for children, this one can serve to provide additional information for reports on Bali or on anthropological studies.-Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA

Kirkus Reviews
A staple food for a large part of the world, rice is a very important crop. But in Bali, as Reynolds reverently explains, rice is life. On this small Indonesian island, farmers have used an intricate water- and crop-rotation system for more than 1,000 years to become one of the world's largest rice producers while also modeling a successful practice of sustainable farming. Paralleling the cycle of rice itself, Reynolds divides her work into three sections: Water first spills down Balinese volcanoes, a family plants and harvests the rice together and, finally, ducks help to eliminate pests and rejuvenate the soil. Full-color photographs dominate the pages, generously illustrating each step. In a clear and dynamic voice, the author gracefully weaves information on Balinese spiritual ritual practices and the dangers of overproduction into the explanation of this tiny-but oh-so-powerful-grain. (author's note, map, web resources, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781600602542
Publisher:
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
04/01/2009
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x (h) x 10.25(d)
Lexile:
1190L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 Years

Meet the Author

Jan Reynolds is an award-winning author and photographer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, The New York Times, and Outside magazine. All seven books in her Vanishing Cultures series of photo-essays for children were recognized as Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. Reynolds is also an avid skier, mountain climber, and adventurer. She holds the world record for women's high altitude skiing, was part of the first expedition to circumnavigate Mount Everest, and performed a solo crossing of the Himalayas. Reynolds lives with her family in Stowe, Vermont.

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