„The wolves return“ by Celia Godkin

When the first settlers set foot on American soil, they encountered wolves everywhere. But due to hunting and habitat changes there were hardly any wolves left by the middle of the 20th century… 1978, the wolves were listed as a threatened species in forty-eight states. In 1995 thirteen wolves from Canada were released on the Yellowstone National Park. The following year another ten wolves followed. The experiment was a success with now over hundred wolves living in Yellowstone. But, even more important: The wolves play an important role for the health of other species and the balance of the ecosystem.

"The wolves return" by Celia Godkin, Pajama Press

“The wolves return” by Celia Godkin, biologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto as well as award-winning author and illustrator, explains the journey of reintroducing wild wolves to Yellowstone and the consecutive changes in the environments of the park in kid-friendly words.

Wolves had been extinct in Yellowstone for a long time and the return of the big carnivores has a huge effect on the local wildlife, which in return changes the environment and local wildlife: As wolves primarily prey on weak elks, they keep the herds smaller, but healthier. The elks move from the bottom of the valley to the higher areas with more trees for shelter, which gives the seedlings which were previously eaten by elks the chance to grow. Within years, the valley changes to a wooden area with tall trees. Beavers use this trees to build dams and beaver houses to raise families. Beaver ponds are a home for waterfowl and fish, which in return attract ospreys and otter. Berry bushes are growing back and provide food and shelter for birds, insects and bears. Fewer elk also let bison herds increase in size. But wolves not only control the number of elks. As huge predators, the coyotes leave Yellowstone. They prey now becomes food for hawks, weasels, badgers and foxes… After almost 20 years the return of a few wolves changed the face of Yellowstone National Park forever. Would you have guessed that a single species can have such a high impact?
"The wolves return" by Celia Godkin, Pajama Press

 

Ecology is a complex topic, but Celia Godkin does a great job with explaining biological correlations to children from preschool to middle school age. Her texts are easy to understand, without complicated technical terms or terminology. What wakes the love for nature are her artwork: True-to-life pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the attention of children and adults from the first page on. It’s hard for an expert to explain scientific topics in easy words and almost impossible to find the right words suitable and plausible for children. Celia Godkin does an expert job! The appendix of the book gives a short overview of the history of wolves in the US and is a great add on for older children, teacher and parents.

Our daughter loved “The wolves return”. She is interested in nature in general and loves wolves – she wants to convince me that our local coyotes are “just baby wolves” each time we spot one… It was really enjoyable to teach her about one of her favorite animals and the development of an ecosystem within a short time span. I studied biology at university and am acquainted with the basics of ecology, although it never was my specialty. I didn’t even know of the return of the wolves to Yellowstone and had a great time researching the topic. We will follow on this topic tomorrow as I found some interesting videos and materials online… I can just guess what a great resource this book is for homeschooling parents or teachers! The publisher also provides a teaching guide, which was unfortunately not online yet at time of this review.

"The wolves return" by Celia Godkin, Pajama Press

Long story short: “The wolves return” is a great non-fiction book with an environmental message for children every age. It’s a great way to raise children who love nature and are sensible to the ecological problems. “The wolves return” is another wonderful children’s book by Pajama Press, an independent publisher from Canada.

More information:

“The wolves return”
by Celia Godkin
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Pajama Press
ISBN-13: 978-1772780116

„Little fox, lost“ by Nicole Snitselaar

Moving to the US wasn’t as big of a culture shock as we expected. Well, at least not until the results of the presidential election came in… We live in the liberal Pacific Northwest, so life is not so different from rainy Germany. After Finja was born I realized that education and upbringing in the US definitely is different from childhood in Germany though. One example: Stranger danger. Even with a policeman as a dad, my sister and I never were explicitly warned about strangers. Not because we were distrustful by nature, but it seems as if our parents were just not afraid of some outsider would come and swipe us away. I thought this was a generation conflict – after all I pedaled my bike through the dark woods when I was middle school aged. You can’t compare the 80s and 90s with today, can’t you? But speaking with my parent friends in Germany made me realize that it’s only not a question of generations – it’s a question of culture as well.

So with a naturally friendly and outgoing daughter I thought it was time to tell her about not wandering away (she loves to do that!) and not trusting anyone she doesn’t know – and even be careful of people she knows. But how can you do it without inflicting distrust and fear of other human beings?

"Little fox, lost" is a gentle story about stranger danger
“Little fox, lost” is a gentle book about stranger danger

I didn’t search for Nicole Snitselaar’s “Little fox, lost”, but it was the perfect solution to our problem.

The storyline is simple: Little fox takes a walk with this mother who gets caught up in a friendly neighborhood chat. Little fox is bored – and soon so fascinated by his tracks in the fresh snow that he doesn’t realize how far he is wandering off. Little fox finds himself in the depth of the forest, all alone and scared… A friendly owl offers to take him back to his mother. Little fox almost agrees, but then he remembers a song his mom taught him:

“If you ever are lost my child
Don’t let a stranger guide you.
Be still and I will search the wild
Until I am beside you.”

The friendly owl understands – and together they wait, singing Mama fox’s song until she finally arrives to bring little fox home.

littlefoxlost_lookinside_3
We loved the friendly, calming illustrations by Alicia Padron

“Little fox, lost” is a gentle story about getting lost and finding your way home again. We loved the snowy winter setting and the cute forest animals as well as the significance of the story – the illustrations by Alicia Padron are calming, they have a huge part in talking about a difficult topic without being frightening. Mother fox’s rhyme “If you ever are lost my child” is easy to remember for children every age. This little ear worm can give them confidence if they should ever get lost for real.

“Little fox, lost” was published by Pajama Press, an independent publisher who’s goal it is “to produce high quality, award-winning books that are appealing to children, young adults, librarians, teachers and parents.”

More information:
„Little fox, lost“
written by Nicole Snitselaar
illustrated by Alicia Padron
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Pajama Press
ISBN-13: 978-1772780048