Water. Its presence is essential to life, and yet we treat it as if it were nothing, an easily-found, easily-restored, rightfully-ours commodity. We do this at our peril.
I want to share three picture books today, each by a writing friend and colleague, each with an important message for us about water.
In Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle, Miranda Paul’s wonderfully evocative, lyrical words and Jason Chin’s vivid illustrations take us through the water cycle. Instead of the dry, dusty prose of a science text explanation, the cycle is brought to foggy, steamy, dripping, gushing life with each page turn and each repetition of the word unless… “Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water unless … it heats up. Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless …” The illustrations of a family’s day to day life make the cycle understandable in real-life, everyday experiences.
Water is Water. A Neal Porter Book. Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2015
Watersong by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Richard Smythe, takes us outside in a rainstorm to experience through onomatopoeic words the sounds of water as heard by the creatures who are out in the rain, or trying to shelter from it. Tim’s inner musicality comes to the fore in this delightful book. The ducks on the pond hear “Splish splosh swish slosh” while, as the storm gets more fierce, the fox and owl are startled by “Lash! Whirl! Bash! Swirl!” Eventually the sparse but evocative text takes us to the calm after the storm, and the watersong quiets.
Watersong. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2017
The Water Princess, written by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, and “based on the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel” tells a very different story than the first two books. It reminds us that water cannot be taken for granted. In the small African village where Gie Gie lives, there is no ready source of clean water. Girls and women must walk long distances each day, with empty earthenware jars on their heads, to get water. But even then it isn’t lovely, fresh, clean water as we might expect. Instead, it is a “dusty-earth-colored liquid” that must be boiled before it is consumed. Gie Gie dreams of the day when fresh, clear, health-giving water will be available right in her own village. This book hopes to help that to happen for villages in Africa, through Ryan’s Well and The Georgie Badiel Foundation.
The Water Princess. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House, New York, 2016
Saturday was Earth Day. As we seek ways to honor our fragile planet, let’s also remember that without water, our earth-home, could not sustain life. According to the US Geological Survey website, 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. There’s more water in the atmosphere, in plants and animals, and in us. Water is life. The USGS Water Science School has oceans of information about water, here.
By an impressive coincidence, the March/April 2017 issue of Popular Science was devoted to water. I found it in my local library when I was first thinking about this blog post. You can also find many articles about water at the Popular Science website.
There are great resources for kids about water, beginning with the authors featured today. Miranda Paul, Tim McCanna and a guest post on the wonderful site Mr. Schu Reads, and guides and activities for all Susan Verde’s books, including The Water Princess.
W is for Water, and for the Wealth of organisms it sustains — like We humans. It is for Wonderful books like Water is Water, Watersong, and The Water Princess. W is also for the Woe that could come if we lay Waste to this precious resource.
About the photo above: Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park.