Tag Archives: environmental picture book

the promise + seed bombs

promise_thumbThe Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin (2013).

This one will wow you. At least it wowed me.

I consider it an urban fable. It takes a city we may know and exaggerates it, makes it grittier and citier and more desolate.


That setting, it makes people “as mean and hard and ugly as their city, and I was mean and hard and ugly too.”  This book is told in the first person, a narrator who is honest and flawed and who changes.



The title comes from a promise the narrator makes to an old woman she’s robbing, that she’ll plant what’s in the bag she’s stealing. And she does. The bag is full of acorns. She plants them and that is just the beginning.



She plants them everywhere.


“I pushed aside the mean and hard and ugly,

and I planted, planted, planted.”

Eventually, there are trees. Birds. The city changes. The people change. Everything changes.


“Trees and flowers, fruits and vegetables, in parks and gardens,

on balconies and rooftops.”

I’m a big fan of Laura Carlin‘s art. (See The Iron Giant or her other wonderful illustration work.)

And here, the artwork is magnificent, each spread totally new from the next. Each, an invention, a revelation. At first, muddy. Sad. Beautiful.



Tiny figures, large ones. Gray, gray, gray. Windows of buildings like thumbprints.



And then, color! Colored pencil drawings that are slightly raw and totally beautiful. Plants and birds and people intertwined.

Here’s Carlin talking about The Promise.


The narrator continues her work planting in cities far and wide. And then, when she confronts someone mean and hard like she was because of their setting, trying to steal her bag, she implores a promise.  Just like hers.


Thanks to Walker Books for images!




This book immediately made me think of seed bombs, which are perfect for Earth Day and Month and Spring! And guys, seed bombs are much prettier than when they first came on the scene! Really, really pretty. But, the result is even better: plants growing in hard, vacant spaces that need some life and beauty and green things. Just like in The Promise.


These are ones I really liked on etsy.


Seed bombs by Paper Sprouts.



Pastel heart-shaped ones from Wild Bloomers.



Wildflower variety by Renaissance Botanical. They look like speckled eggs!



There are even seed bombs that look like a box of chocolates from Garden bonbons.



Rainbow too! By Love By Bean.



Black ones filled with herb seeds from Plantables and Paper.



And this is what they look like when they start to sprout! Via Pulp Art.

There are beneficial bug-attracting seed bombs. The best bombs for each region of the U.S. The ones honey bees love.

But, hey, you could also make your own no-nonsense seed bombs!


tiny-creatues-picture-bookYou may want to check out another Nicola Davies book I’ve featured: TINY CREATURES: THE WORLD OF MICROBES.






Can We Save the Tiger?

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 8.01.00 PM


9780763649098Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White.


This is a beautiful book.  But a sad book too.

It introduces the reader to the concept of extinction. That some animals are in danger of going away and never coming back, that some animals already have. But also that there’s still hope.






“There are so many endangered species all over the world that it’s hard to pick out some special ones. 

Still, I’m sure you’ll agree that tigers are

pretty special.”


I like how the text gets into the complexities of why tigers and other animals are disappearing. Though told with clarity, this is not a simple book. It introduces the concept of invasive species. Of connectivity. It gives page time to Partula snails too. And introduces the Kakapo birds of Australia.




“…if we stop trying, the chances are that pretty soon we’ll end up with a world where there are no tigers or elephants, or sawfishes or whooping cranes, or albatrosses or ground iguanas.

And I think that would be a shame, don’t you?”



I also appreciate the way the artwork plays with scale as well as going back and forth between line drawings and painted ones. It brings the animals up close, then far away, from a sketchbook to right in front of you.




A perfect book for any budding animal-lover/conservationist.


And check out WWF’s list of endangered species and learn more about each one.