We affect our planet almost from birth, so it's only natural that environmental awareness should begin early, too. Laurie David, the producer of the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, teams up with activist Cambria Gordon to create a user-friendly global warming guide for kids. No mere gloom-and-doom jeremiad, The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming offers empowering suggestions about what young people can do to help stem the rate of climate change.
The details of global warming boggle some of the world's finest minds, but Laurie David and Cambria Gordon's Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming actually makes it easy to understand. The first third of the book is dedicated to the science behind climate change. And while nitpickers may find the lack of references and occasional simplifications annoying, I've never seen a more comprehensive explanation of the phenomenon in so few words…they make the science relevant and enjoyable with abundant visuals and conclude with some meaty ways for kids to make a difference.
The New York Times
Eco-activist David, a producer of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and former copywriter Gordon pool their energies in this upbeat and articulate book. The authors estimate that 1.2 billion kids between the ages of eight and sixteen live on Earth, each contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. "Your carbon footprint comes from normal, everyday activities like using your computer, turning on the light in your bedroom, taking a bath (heating water uses energy!), and riding in a bus or car to school." But rather than play the blame game, the book examines the climate crisis and recommends taking action by recycling, carpooling, starting "no-waste" policies in cafeterias (watch those juice boxes) and monitoring the efficiency of home and school appliances-things a young reader can do right away. Kid-friendly analogies, surprising statistics and punchy sidebars enable readers to reflect on scientific evidence. David and Gordon compare oceans to "carbon sponges," the atmosphere to a jam-packed "bedroom closet" and forests and soils to a "piggy bank" that stores carbon dioxide. Dynamic layouts and abundant illustrations and photos enliven the passionate words-lush, full-bleed photographs emphasize the high stakes by portraying both the splendor of the natural world and the devastating effects of climate change. Printed in soy ink on recycled paper, this engaging and accessible guide, ideal as a gift or book-club option, inspires commitment to the planet. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
David and Gordon present an informative exploration of global warming that is divided into sections covering global warming and its causes, the effects on global weather, consequences for the animal kingdom, and suggestions for action. Scattered throughout are photos, illustrations, graphs, and charts. Sidebars highlight interesting or important facts. The book includes a suggested reading section consisting of books and Web sites. An extensive bibliography that includes articles, reports, Web sites, and source notes indicates careful research. What is less clear is the intended audience. Although the information presented could easily appeal to the suggested age range of eight and up, the authors choose to write for the bottom of that range. For example, a section discussing the measurement of atmospheric CO2 in Hawaii includes the words "big kahuna," "gnarliest," "radical," and "kowabunga." Unfortunately this use of dated slang conveys the tone of an adult talking down to a small child. Despite obvious good intentions, the result is condescending. The authors try very hard to write in a snappy, colloquial voice-and miss the mark widely. In order to glean any information, the reader must block out the off-putting tone. It is unfortunate because this book contains good information regarding a pressing global issue. The goal of a nonfiction book is to convey information; however in this case, the delivery system is so distracting that the important message addressing global warming will be lost to all except the most motivated.
Gr 4-6 David and Gordon present a mass of material on this broad topic in a clearly explained, kid-friendly format. While documenting the decline of species, the dangers presented by melting ice caps, and the hazards of weather-related catastrophes, they also suggest positive and doable steps to address the problems. Eye-catching color illustrations and photos appear throughout, but are often more decorative than informative. Some analogies and statements could use further clarification. "One tree can absorb the amount of CO2 released by an average car that's been driven for 4,000 miles." This rate depends on whether you are discussing the offset for one year or for the lifetime of the tree, as well as its type, age, and size. Most sources feel that it takes far more than one tree to effect this offset. When calculating the "carbon footprint" of an average child, the criteria used are reflective of the industrialized West, yet are applied worldwide. An extensive list of recommended reading in the way of books, articles, and Web sites is included. An appealing title for reports and for general readers.-Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY
Hot on the heels of the rewritten-for-children version of An Inconvenient Truth, the film's producer and a former advertising copywriter offer another clearly written explanation of this hot topic. Four well-organized sections define the issue and give examples of consequences in the physical world, extinctions in the animal world and what young people can do. A humorous tone, eye-catching graphics and celebrity connections lend pizzazz to this volume, but there is plenty of substance, too. They go into more detail about the problem, introducing new concepts like albedo, ocean stratification and carbon footprint, and describe more consequences including the disappearance of national park attractions and changes in one's own backyard. The section on actions includes discussion of school and household changes, political actions, automobiles and even careers. The excellent backmatter provides documentation and a variety of resources for further research. This takes up where Gore's title leaves off, and schools and libraries will want multiple copies of both. (authors' note with new news, glossary, suggestions for reading and websites, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)