Photo: Sara Novak
When I think back to the days of elementary school a few books remain crystal clear above the other hazy recollections. There's that book report on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and who could forget the Secret Garden?
But from kindergarten on up through high school, barely a moment was spent on environmental education. Now, a modern interpretation of these ethical ideals has begun molding the next generation into eco-savvy adults. E Is For Environment by Ian James Corlett is an instructional book to Help Children Care for Their World at Home, at School, and at Play.The book, which is designed for elementary-aged kids, second grade and up, is divided into bite-sized individual lessons, each with its own environmental message.
I couldn't help but love the adorable Lucy and Elliot, two very clever siblings telling the story along with their parents. Unfortunately, some of the delightful illustrations (especially appealing to the little ones) would have been easier to see on the page. They were quite dark and hard to discern in my paperback version.
The stories were creative and even quirky. My favorite, "The Energy Vampire Hunter" told the story of Lucy dressing up as a vampire hunter "in search of red dots." In reality, Lucy was looking to unplug any device not in use to reduce phantom energy use, but it was a wonderful way to empower kids to do the right thing.
Each chapter had a quote at the end, some of which seemed either designed for adult readership or way too mature for elementary school children, and at times, only loosely connected to the story line. One quote from Paul Maccready Jr. read: "Your grandchild will likely find it incredible—even sinful—that you wasted a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!" While this may be true, it has no place in a child's book.
The transitions in the book were at times a stretch. For example, the kids would uncover facts like the most efficient refrigerator temperature by surfing on the Internet. While I understand the message being conveyed and the importance of that message, a second grader should rely on more than just Google to find information.
While the book had a few shortcomings, it remains a worthwhile and entertaining tool for parents hoping to raise the next generation of responsible and aware kids. The book illustrates the moral imperative of environmental awareness with the backdrop of a loving and closely knit family.