Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books page for a complete list of perfect picture books and links to resources and activities.

Title: Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder

Written by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Thomas Locker

Fulcrum Publishing 2004

Suitable for ages 8+

Themes: ocean, biology, conservation

Once there was a child whose love of nature would one day lead her to write a book that changed our world…” Rachel Carson knew she wanted to be a writer, but she first studied biology at the Pennsylvania College for Women.  She later moved to the coast of Maine where she wrote about the wonders of the sea.  Carson is well known for writing The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea, but the book that she wrote in 1962 called Silent Spring is her most famous and influential work. This book alerted the public to the dangers of the chemical spray DDT to fragile ecosystems. Thanks in large part to Rachel’s book, the widespread use of the pesticide was banned in the United States. “Because of Rachel and her powerful words for nature, the rivers of our land now flow cleaner, the songbirds still sing from the apple trees, and the fish still swim in Rachel’s beloved sea.”

Links to resources:

http://www.rachelcarson.org/

http://www.fws.gov/northeast/rachelcarson/carsonbio.html

http://www.nrdc.org/health/pesticides/hcarson.asp

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/educators/rachelcarson.html

Why I like this book: I found this book quite by accident yesterday as I was helping a student locate a biography about George Washington Carver. (Carver-Carson!) I had never heard of Rachel Carson,  and I was impressed by the beautiful painting on the cover. The story of Rachel’s life is written in a succinct and poetic manner.  Locker’s landscape paintings of Rachel and the ocean are breathtakingly beautiful. I could smell the salty ocean air as I turned the pages.

In the story a “chemical spray”  threatens to destroy the earth’s interconnected ecosystems. The term “DDT” is never mentioned. I was intrigued so I conducted a bit of research of my own.  I learned the name of the chemical, its uses, and its detrimental affects to nature. I think this book could be used to introduce children to the concept of interconnection in nature and nature conservation. Children are curious and will most likely want to conduct their own research on this bit of history.

Finally, I am impressed  that one writer (and  a woman in 1962!) and one book had such an impact on the chemical industry. Other factors surely played a role in ending the use of DDT, but Carson’s book was no doubt a large player.

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28 responses to “Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder

  1. Once again, another great selection. The cover is breathtaking. But, I love how this book could teach a generation of kids about the dangers of chemicals and the importance of our ecosystems. It is amazing Rachael had such an impact. Great role model for kids.

    • Pat, I really love it when I stumble upon something new in my library that I never knew about. I’m looking forward to sharing this book about an incredible role model with my students. 🙂

  2. I didn’t know there was a picture book about Rachel Carson! This is why I love, LOVE PPBF. So many great books to discover.

  3. First – wow! new look at the site! Very bright and clean – I like it!
    Second – I am thrilled to have a book about a woman who was a pioneer and a book about environmental conservation/protection. This looks fantastic.
    Third – I especially like it because a good friend of mine just wrote a book on Rachel Carson for Chelsea House – it came out this spring 🙂
    Thanks for another great addition to the list, Kelly! Have a great weekend 🙂

    • Thanks, Susanna. I thought it was time for a makeover! I’m with you-I love to share books about female pioneers in history. Is your friend’s book for kids or adults?

      • It’s for kids, but it’s written at middle grade level. I think it’s called Rachel Carson, but that seems so obvious that it might have something else with it… I can’t remember. Her name is Marie-Therese Miller, though. She also wrote a series for Chelsea House about dogs (Helping Dogs, Hunting Dogs, etc…)

  4. What a great book to add to the list!

  5. I like how you found the book! Libraries are great! The book sounds interesting. I am going to see if my school library has it!
    Erik 🙂

  6. We owe a debt of gratitude to Rachel Carson for alerting so many people to the dangers of DDT. It was still in use when I was a small child growing up on a farm, as were many other chemicals that have been proven to be harmful. Thank goodness they are no longer in use, but there are still so many chemicals in our ecosystem, and books like these are absolutely necessary to educate the next generation about the importance of the ecosystem and the effect of these things on it.

    I’m glad you happened across this book!

    (And like what you’ve done around here, too!)

    • Thanks, Beth! I agree, we do owe a huge debt of gratitude to Rachel Carson. Apparently she tried to publish articles in Reader’s Digest to no avail. She finally gave up and decided to publish her findings in a book. I think that took a lot of guts-especially for a woman in the early 60’s!

  7. Great blog makeover, Kelly! At first, when I saw the title, I thought “Oh, another librarian!”

    You manage to always surprise and delight me with your choice! You also seem to have a really wonderful biography selection in your library. Well done!

    I love the quotes you have shared with us. The Wonder sparkles out of this book!

    • Thanks, Joanna! I thought my little blog needed a makeover-I also wanted it to be original, so I used a picture from my trip to a beautiful natural garden in northern Arkansas. I thought you might like this book. 🙂 I opened my library in 2007 and I still stumble across new titles from time to time. I love it when that happens!!

  8. I like the makeover too. And, this book is a good reminder that we can change our world. Thank you for that today.

  9. I’ve never heard of this book, it sounds like a must read. The cover art is amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Lovely cover and review. I’m all about science themed books for kids. Thanks for the review Kelly!

  11. Catherine Johnson

    Good for her, that sounds great Kelly.

  12. I’m fairly new to Susannah’s PPBF…but not to this life. 🙂 I kind of feel old when I read that you had never heard of Rachel Carson…I started high school in ’63, so her book was much talked about in some of my classes.

    Thank you so much for selecting this book…I didn’t know there were books about her out there for kids.
    I’m always encouraging parents to use the library…one of the last great free resources for the community! And many libraries out there are not just about books…so many programs for adults and children of all ages…I’m often blogging about that!

    • Hi, Vivian! Thanks so much for your support of libraries. They are so important! I love my job and I love introducing new literature to students and helping them find information. We also sponsor a lot of great programs 🙂

  13. Hi Kelly! Thanks for *liking* my blog post introducing your self that way and causing me to find out who you were. So glad to come across this fantastic selection for PPBF. Carson is a heroine of mine and I am thrilled to know of a picture book biography of her. Can’t wait to get it out of the library. 🙂

  14. This book sounds fantastic! I’ve never heard of Rachel Carson, but I really want to know more now. How interesting! And yes, I agree with the others, the illustrations look gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this beautiful book with us.

  15. Kelly, I love what you’ve done with the place! And this book looks so beautiful – I love bios of strong women.

    Can I just say…you are such a good librarian! I can really tell how much you love your work and sharing your findings with the kids. Yay for you!

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