Nonfiction Corner: Water/How Old Is a Whale?

Water: How We Can Protect Our Freshwater (Candlewick)
Written by Catherine Barr
Illustrated by Christiane Engel

For ages: 5-9
We live in an age of great uncertainty, especially where our planet is concerned. Summer 2021 was the hottest & driest on record globally, and 2022 increased that, with 2023 looking to top the record again. Vast swaths of the Southwestern United States are experiencing significant droughts, and the rationing of water is something on the table. To remedy this & more importantly, to prepare our children, we need them to have a greater depth of knowledge than our generation on these things. This excellent book on water will give any elementary student a detailed yet comprehensive view of our water systems and their importance to the continuation of life on Earth.

Author Catherine Barr touches on several key concepts. She begins by discussing the origins of water on Earth and the minimal amount of freshwater on the planet. However, in a later section, she uses data to show students that there is enough freshwater for everyone only if we curtail some unnecessary industries that consume far more than their fair share. Barr also addresses water pollution when showing how this precious resource is naturally recycled. The accompanying illustrations are excellent at taking concepts that might be hard for a child to understand and visualizing them in simple, digestible, and entertaining ways. This is a great pick if you want an excellent introductory text to a water unit or to grow your child’s understanding of earth science.

This review copy was provided by the publisher.

How Old Is a Whale?: Animal Life Spans from the Mayfly to the Immortal Jellyfish (Candlewick)
Written by Lily Murray
Illustrated by Jesse Hodgson

For ages: 6-9
We typically measure things against a human lifespan from our point of view. However, our lifespan is different from many organisms on the planet. So what could we learn by adjusting our perspectives and seeing the world through the eyes of something that lives for a different period? In Catherine Barr’s wonderfully written book How Old Is a Whale? she tells us in great detail about animal lifespans, sharing information that, to be honest, brought me to tears on some pages. It is a powerful thing to spend time thinking about how vast a human life is in comparison to a bee’s life or how short we are on this Earth when seen through the eyes of a whale. 

I was particularly moved by how mayflies spend their whole life in twenty-four hours, hatching and searching for a mate in a single day. So many animals featured here live only for a few months or a handful of years. To us, that seems so tiny, but to them, it is a normal life. The most moving and beautiful, in my opinion, is the immortal jellyfish. It begins as a polyp no bigger than a fingernail but grows into a large multi-tentacled & translucent wonder. The simplicity of its anatomy, no heart or brain, makes it so alien to what we know. Even more, when threatened or in danger, it can return to its polyp state and start life all over again. How silly we must look living only one life. 

This review copy was provided by the publisher.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s