Book Review: How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate


When Ted Geisel a.k.a Dr Seuss writes, "Dear Lynne Cherry, I wish I could draw and paint as well as you do! That is a beautiful and powerful book [The Great Kapok Tree] My Lorax doesn't fell quite so lonely now that your great birds and beasts have come to join him," I'm prepared to take notice. Lynne Cherry has authored/illustrated over 30 children books. In her latest publishing foray she teams with photojournalist Gary Braasch, whose recent work Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World we reviewed here.

Together they have crafted a very fine new tome. The subtitle 'Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming' pretty much sums up the scope of the book. It is about science—the observation and recording of natural occurrences and phenomena. It lays out pretty clearly what work scientists are doing to better understand the world around us, and how they have come to certain conclusions about our changing climate. Students of all age will find inspiring examples of their peers engaged in citizen-based scientific endeavour. 'How We Know...' is peppered with real live examples of kids making discoveries and helping boffins get a better grasp on what's going on.

There is nature in abundance here and all the kid's faves get a mention: Frogs, butterflies, trees, birds, caribou, penguins, polar bears, flowers and even mud. We understand the target to be 4th to 9th grade students, but as it is written in totally accessible style, we're sure that parents and teachers of kids outside this age bracket will find it very useful in helping to connect kids to the natural world.


We jotted down some of the projects already involving students like the Thousand Eyes project, Budburst, Journey North, Monarch Watch, Frogwatch in (USA, Canada and Australia), Student Partners project, Weather RATS, Clean School Bus, and Eternal Children's Rainforest. Then we ended up at the resources at the back of the book and found bucket loads more.

The book is crammed with real world examples of kids learning to understand the world around them, to foster that innate curiosity about the way things work and our place amongst them. Aside from the chapters on junior and citizen science projects, the final chapters provide plenty of scope for kids to participate (and encourage their adult pals) in active planet saving.

Lynne Cherry knows how to write for her audience. The words are high readable and informative. And married perfectly with Gary Braasch's engaging nature photography.

Though we feel the vast swaths of text might come across as looking a bit heavy going for younger readers. Paragraph breaks instead of indents may have given the body text a lighter feel. And we reckon the designers could've conjured up a more inspiring and appealing cover. But we're fussing about minor details. The vast bulk of this book is primed with excellent knowledge and images set to enthuse new generations of John Muirs, Rachel Carsons and Al Gores.

::How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate by Dawn Publishing.

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