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Recommended by Melinda at Kendale Lakes Branch

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet
Written and with photography by April Pulley Sayre

Thank You, Earth wording with nature pictures in each letter

A poignant yet straightforward thank you letter to our planet for all of the things that it provides. From the beautiful landscapes and oceanscapes to the photogenic animals; from the seasons to the patterns and the hard rocks to the soft flowers. From the gorgeous to the prickly, a thank you for all.

April Pulley Sayre’s thank you letter to Earth is an engaging way to get kids thinking about the environment. She sets up short sentences for specific sections and then couples them with high‑quality, artistically shot photographs. Each one is a work of art that perfectly reflects the simple, almost reverential text.

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Snowboy and the Last Tree Standing
Written by Hiawyn Oram; illustrated by Birgitta Sif

A little boy in winter clothes and a cape covering a small tree behind him

Snowboy spends the day playing KA‑CHING with Greenbackboy. They begin in the forest, where they cut down all of the trees and trade them for the ka‑ching to buy many things. However, while in the woods, Snowboy remembers that we cannot breathe without trees, so he saves one by hiding it with his Cloak of Many Uses. Then Greenbackboy takes Snowboy to the ocean, where they catch all of the fish. Snowboy does not want a dead sea, so he slips some back in. Greenbackboy now has lots of ka‑ching, but Snowboy points out that you cannot breathe or eat ka‑ching. So he returns to check on the lone tree and nurses it back to health, happy to see it grow and sprout little seedlings. He checks on the fish and finds them multiplying; he has hope that they will grow into millions. And when Greenbackboy shows up hungry, Snowboy teaches him to ask for a little honey but to save some for tomorrow, before he heads back home to sleep.

Hiawyn Oram writes a poignant fable about how the game of making money will lead to the destruction of our planet, unless we begin protecting it and keeping something around for tomorrow. Birgitta Sif illustrates the tale with delicate, well‑chosen colors that alternate between conveying a dark foreboding and a glow of hope. Greenbackboy always looks as if he’s rubbing his hands over his ka‑ching‑filled treasure chests, even when they are not pictured. Snowboy demonstrates his doubts in the game and his fear of being caught when he saves a tree or a pair of fish. His quiet companions are steady images that appear on every page.

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Written and illustrated by Anna Walker

A young girl with a dog standing outside a large glass building with a garden inside

When Mae and her family move to the city, she is forced to leave her garden behind. In their new home, there is no place for grass or trees or flowers. Mae tries to make her own garden, but each time she draws one, it disappears. One day she spots what she thinks is a clear space, only to find a rock‑covered park, no green plants. Then she follows a bird and watches it disappear into a leafy forest, behind glass. Mae waits and waits for the bird to reappear, but it does not. What Mae does find is a sprout of green sticking out from the walled‑in forest. Mae picks it and takes it home, a new treasure. She plants it in her jar, hoping it will grow so that she will have her very own garden once again. And she does.

Anna Walker writes a heartwarming story of one young girl’s yearning for her garden. She seeks out an urban garden only to be disappointed time and time again, until she can grow her own. Walker’s illustrations have dark backgrounds, to demonstrate the main character’s disappointment with the urban move. The people in the book are drawn with very simple faces. All of the emotional delivery comes from their posture as they move through the pages: the hanging heads when Mae and her pup friend cannot find a garden, their wonder at seeing the Florette, and their happiness when their very own garden finally is born.

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From Tree to Sea
Written by Shelley Moore Thomas; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Two children sitting closely together on a tree branch overlooking the ocean

What are some of the things that Earth can teach you? Trees remind you to stand tall, stones show you how to be strong, oceans prompt you to travel and the sun brings light and warmth. Clouds show you how to rise up, bees teach you to work hard and baby birds remind you to try even when you are afraid. Cats encourage you to be curious, whales show you wonder about big and small things, and the moon teaches you that you can change and still be you. There’s a beautiful and full world out there, just waiting for us to find it!

Shelley Moore Thomas’s inspiring book tells readers how some of the humblest things on this planet can inspire you to be the best you that you can. That you can learn from all sorts of things, like clouds and bees, cats and trees. Christopher Silas Neal provides wonderful illustrations combine people or beings with a beautiful natural backdrop. Each picture takes a close‑up view that allows some detail to fade away while still leaving behind their influence. The book provides inspiration to readers of all ages.

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Elmer’s Walk
Written and illustrated by David McKee

Two elephants drawn with checker patterns, one black and white the other in multicolors over a night sky background

Elmer spends his day stopping to smell, observe and experience his surroundings. He continuously calls out to his friends, trying to get them to slow down and enjoy the world around them, but they keep saying that they have something more urgent to do. Elmer wanders across the whole of the jungle, asking his herd, crocodiles, lion, the monkeys, birds, tiger and others to stop and enjoy nature, to no avail. Finally, he runs into his cousin Wilber, who has stayed to watch the nightfall. Elmer joins him and the two observe twilight and the stars, quietly enjoying the night sky and each other’s company.

David McKee writes another wondrous tale about Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. His stories all touch on how brave and different Elmer is, doing things differently than his friends. McKee’s vibrant illustrations depict colorful jungle backgrounds and expressive animals. The elephants look stressed in their hurry. The lion seems ready for his mentioned nap. The monkeys show joy as they swing through the trees. Throughout every scene, Elmer conveys the happiness he is experiencing in his pure enjoyment of nature.

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