Every time the Wizard of Why asks me about a polar bear, I want to cry. What if there aren’t any left when his son asks him the same question? The idea that I brought a child into a world like that–the idea that he learns every day the world is less perfect than he imagined it, is sometimes hard to take. News stories of bears stranded mid-ocean on small pieces of ice, or mother polar bears eating their cubs pound through my head. I don’t share those. Sometimes I talk to him about the danger they face. I try to balance honesty with his own young developmental stage.
But I do love that he’s asking–always asking–about the world around him. He wants to know how animals do the things they do. And, former science teacher that I am, (or current, if this counts as a job), I want to tell him. Which is why I love getting books like this one.
My son will love it. I know he will ask to read it again and again, as he does with any fact-laden book. But this is not nonfiction in the strictest sense of the word. The facts are laced into poetry and the poetry sewn into a kind of a story.
The question “how do humans keep warm in the winter, Mama?” is repeated, with slight variations, on each of the crisply illustrated pages of this scientific story. “Do they live in a bunch taking turns for their lunch?” the voice asks, while the picture shows us that this is what bees do. Through a series of questions partnered with drawings, children learn how animals stay warm in the winter through adaptations, shelters, and changing habitats.
One of the great twists in this book is that the questions are asked by the animal young of their own mothers–a turtle is imagining a human child with a shell on its back, a bear cub is picturing a sleepy girl who has just finished a full meal. My son will love this as well–he will love the idea that animals are asking questions and it confirms for him that questions are good, that they are part of our natural world, that they are important to us.
Title: A Warm Winter Tail
Author: Carrie A. Pearson
Illustrator: Christina Wild
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7
Usually, I like to talk about what you can do with a book other than just reading it. But this book does that for me! There are activities in the back of the book that include more fun facts, more detailed explanations of the winter behavior of the animals in the book, and a matching game. There are also more activities online.
I don’t know how to save the world, but I do know that education is the first step. It may not be sufficient, but it is necessary. Books are an important part of that education. I’m excited to be a stop on the blog tour of A Warm Winter Tail, and I hope you enjoy it too!