Picture Books and the Environment: Bibliography and Study Guide

Compiled by Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Ferrum College

Natural Habitats and Ecosystems Transformations: Images that Blend Fantasy and Reality, Natural and Artificial Interactions between Humans and the Natural Environment
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Human Homes and the Environment Other Picture Books and Illustrated Collections on the Environment Elements to Look for in Picture Books on Environments
NOTE: These categories were developed for a college course in environmental science focusing on homes and habitats. Many of the books could be used in another of these categories, or to illustrate some other concept such as succession and change, life cycles, recycling (in natural cycles, human reuse of resources, or patterns of repetition in language or folklore motifs).
See also
Science 141 and 143: Humans Within Ecosystems and Our Home/Our Habitat
Nature and the Environment in Appalachian Literature, bibliography in AppLit
Bibliography: Adaptations of Traditional Literature in Ecological Children's Books
Background Resources on Environmental Literature for Teachers and Scholars

Natural Habitats and Ecosystems

Arnosky, Jim. Deer at the Brook. New York: Mulberry, 1986. Soft drawings and simple text depict deer and other animals around a brook.

Bash, Barbara. Tree of Life: The World of the African Baobab. New York: Little, Brown/Sierra Club, 1989. Various organisms depend on the tree. See Bash's book on the banyan tree in the Interactions section below.

Bash, Barbara. Urban Roosts: Where Birds Nest in the City. Boston: Little, Brown/Sierra Club, 1990. See also by Bash and Sierra Club: Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus and Shadows of Night: The Hidden World of the Little Brown Bat, 1993.

Brown, Ruth. Ladybug, Ladybug. New York: Puffin, 1988. The book begins with the first verse of the traditional rhyme that a child would recite as he sends the ladybug off to find her home, but rather than humanizing ladybugs further with lines about a daughter named Ann hiding under a pan, fourteen new verses accompanied by Brown's beautiful paintings give a bug's eye view as the ladybug travels through a rural environment full of realistic plants and animals, encountering potential predators such as a frog and a cat with "dangerous, razor-sharp claws," until she finds her children safe at home in a blackberry bush.

Collard, Sneed B. III. Our Natural Homes: Exploring Terrestrial Biomes of North and South America. Illus. James M. Needham. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 1996. Readers are asked to discover which of the twelve biome is home to them. Two paragraphs describing each one are accompanied by paintings of landscapes and animals that fill 3/4 of each double-page spread. Includes a world map and glossary.

Dunphy, Madeleine. Here is the Tropical Rain Forest. Illus. Michael Rothman. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

Lasky, Kathryn. Cloud Eyes. Illus. Barry Moser. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994. Cloud Eyes is a dreamer who wears a bearskin and dances with the bears as he finds a way to keep them from destroying the hives so that the bees will resume production and people and bears can all have honey. Great-grandmother Bee teaches this visionary young man the bear dance. Realistic pencil drawings depict Cloud Eyes, bears and bees.

Kitchen, Bert. And So They Build. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1993. Text and illustrations describe 12 animal architects.

Kitchen, Bert. Somewhere Today. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1992. Each double-page spread depicts a different animal engaged in a typical activity, "Somewhere today a spotted skunk is doing a handstand." Details are given on habitats and animal actions. Precise, realistic full-page paintings dramatize each ordinary or odd activity.

Lavies, Bianca. Tree Trunk Traffic. New York: Dutton/Puffin Unicorn, 1989. Photographs of squirrels and other inhabitants of a tree.

MacDonald, Golden. The Little Island. Illus. Leonard Weisgard. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1946. Various organisms visit or settle on a little island.

Ryder, Joanne. Where Butterflies Grow. Illus. Lynne Cherry. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1991. Shows the life cycle of black swallowtail butterflies living among leaves and flowers. Includes instructions for making a garden to attract butterflies.

Schreiber, Anne. Log Hotel. Illus. Debbie Pinkney. New York: Scholastic, 1994. After an oak tree falls, various organisms contribute to decay and find homes in the log until it becomes part of the soil that could nurture the seed of a new tree.

Simon, Seymour. Autumn Across America, 1993. Winter Across America, 1994. New York: Hyperion. And many other science books by Simon with photographs.

Simon, Seymour. They Walk the Earth: The Extraordinary Travels of Animals on Land. Illus Elsa Warnick. New York: Browndeer Press/Harcourt, 2000. Explains different types of migrations of animal groups as they seek resources needed to survive in different parts of the world. The main text and soft watercolor illustrations depict caribou herds, small mammals (such as squirrels, mice, and lemmings), polar bears, elephants, bison, and human nomads such as Lapps with their reindeer.

Taylor, Barbara. Rain Forest. Photos. by Frank Greenaway. Look Closer Series. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1992. Colorful informational book about inhabitants of rain forest.

Yolen, Jane. Welcome to the Green House. Illus. Laura Regan. New York: Putnam’s, 1993. Poem and paintings depicting the rain forest, with factual information at the end.

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Transformations: Images that Blend Fantasy and Reality, Natural and Artificial

NOTE: See other examples and notes on connecting folktales and tall tales with study of the environment in AppLit's Folktales and Legends. Innumerable animal tales, pourquoi tales, and creation myths from different cultures could be used to compare prescientific or fantastic views of nature and scientific explanations of natural phenomenon. The contemporary stories listed below have some direct bearing on environmental issues and concepts.

Cannon, Janell. Stellaluna. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993. A young fruit bat lives with birds, returns to own home and mother.

Cherry, Lynne. The Armadillo from Amarillo. New York: Gulliver Green Book/Harcourt Brace, 1994. Armadillo seeks answers to questions about where he is in the world.

Cherry, Lynne. The Dragon and the Unicorn. New York: Gulliver Green Book/Harcourt Brace, 1995. Dragon and unicorn help princess save forest. For more on this book, see Dragons in Picture Books.

Cherry, Lynne. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest. New York: Gulliver Green Book/Harcourt Brace, 1990. Animals speak to man during sleep to change his attitude to the forest.

Cole, Babette. Supermoo! London: BBC Books, 1992. N. pag. A preposterous parody of Superman and Batman, and of environmental disasters caused by humans. The flying cow Supermoo blows a giant bubble to clean up a massive treacle spill caused by "evil spreaders of filth and pollution," and then uses the treacle to put out an oil-drill fire. Although there is no realism in these solutions to ecological crises, Supermoo's admonition to "keep our country green and clean" is a clear and explicit message voiced by this bovine ecohero.

Fleischman, Paul. Weslandia. Illus. Kevin Hawkes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 1999. A nerdy young "outcast from civilization," who has no friends and dislikes many things in contemporary culture, decides to grow his own staple food crop as a summer project. A night wind magically blows an unknown plant into his garden—a plant that provides everything he needs to found his own civilization. He makes food, shelter, cloth for new kinds of cool loose-fitting clothes, ink, suntan/pest repellant oils he sells for profit, etc. The plant inspires a new counting system, a new sport, and a new language to name his inventions from the plant he calls swist. Like Tom Sawyer, he lets curious kids help crush the plant's seeds and play the new game, until he has a following of Weslandian friends dressing like him at the end of the summer.

Fritz, Jean. The Good Giants and the Bad Pukwudgies. Illus. Tomie de Paola. NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1982. Based on an Algonquin legend about the formation of the geography of Cape Cod.

Haley, Gail. Noah's Ark. New York: Atheneum, 1971. N. pag. Noah is an ordinary man who is horrified that animals exploited for human profit and pleasure are becoming extinct and that no one will heed his public appeals for political and social change. So he builds a modern ark to house his family and the world's remaining animals, holding them at sea until humans many years later show that they have cleaned up the world. With new "forests, gardens, and parks" everywhere—but no zoos, "men and animals lived together happily forever after." Haley's rather heavy-handed fantasy of an Eden where children and animals live in harmony, with illustrations reminiscent of Edward Hicks's nineteenth-century Peaceable Kingdom paintings, is as unrealistic as Wildsmith's more humorous Professor Noah. However, she commented that her "book shows children, in terms that they can understand, that it is possible to foresee the probable, to cope with it, to act and to be active in the face of great odds."

Hurd, Edith Thacher. Wilson’s World. Illus. Clement Hurd. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Ecological fantasy in which a boy paints a cleaner world.

Jonas, Ann. Aardvarks, Disembark! New York: Puffin, 1990. In a spin-off on the story of Noah's ark, Noah calls animals from A to Z off the ark after the flood, then finds more animals whose names he does not know. In reverse alphabetical order, endangered and extinct animals leave the ark in a parade through the rest of the book. A list at the end gives brief identification of all these animals that existed in Noah's time.

Kellogg, Steven. Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale Retold and Illustrated by Steven Kellogg. New York: William Morrow, 1988. Kellogg's comical, detailed illustrations accompany a mixture of history and tall tale escapades associated with John Chapman, legendary planter of apple trees in northern America. The fantastic legends show him chatting with birds, frolicking with bears, etc. See Lindbergh's book on the same subject in Interactions between Humans and the Natural Environment.

Lowell, Susan. The Three Little Javelinas. Illus. Jim Harris. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland, 1992. Humorous adaptation of “3 Little Pigs” set in Southwest environment.

Lowell, Susan. The Tortoise and the Hare. Illus. Jim Harris. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland, 1994. Humorous adaptation of famous fable set in Southwest environment. The Note at the end explains that "real desert tortoises are in trouble" because of disease spread by pet turtles and habitat destruction caused by humans.

Madden, Don. The Wartville Wizard. New York: Aladdin-Macmillan, 1986. Comical picture book fantasy about convincing  townspeople to stop littering after an old man develops the magical power to make all their litter stick to their bodies. 

Mazer, Anne. The Salamander Room. Illus. Steve Johnson. New York: Knopf/Dragonfly Books, 1991. A boy imagines his room as a salamander habitat, revealing differences between the environments where humans and salamanders thrive.

Morrison, Blake. The Yellow House. Illus. Helen Craig. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1987. Child fantasizes about seeing wild animals in empty house.

Meyers, Walter Dean. The Story of the Three Kingdoms. Illus. Ashley Bryan. New York: Harper Collins, 1995. A fable about the coming of People in an ancient kingdom where Elephant, Shark, and Hawk rule the forest, sea, and sky. After finding they are capable of seizing power in this world, the weaker human creatures realize that they can use storytelling and wisdom to learn how to share the earth.

Peet, Bill. The Wump World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970. Polluters (Pollutians) from another planet colonize and destroy the Wumps’ beautiful natural world. Although not as well known as Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, this is a similar kind of ecological fantasy published at about the same time.

Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. Crown, 1991. (Caldecott Honor, 1992) A child fantasizes about flying above her city home, over the Brooklyn Bridge that her grandfather worked on, solving social problems faced by her interracial family.

Robinson, Sandra Chisholm. The Last Bit Bear: A Fable. Illus. Ellen Ditzler Meloy. Niwot, CO: Roberts Rinehart, 1984. The fable, written by a park ranger, is a little like "The Bremen Town Musicians" and a little like The Wizard of Oz as a group of animals with different needs join Clover, the bit-bear, on his search for a better habitat. With advice from a wise great blue whale and help from a friendly human boy, they find clean homes in a national park, but the the bit-bear becomes extinct because the last one never found a mate.

Ryder, Joanne. The Bear on the Moon. Illus. Carol Lacy. New York: Morrow, 1991. A creation story for polar bears in the Arctic.

Ryder, Joanne. White Bear, Ice Bear. Illus. Michael Rothman. A Just for a Day Book. New York: Mulberry, 1989. One of a series in which children imagine being an animal. Others in the series: Catching the Wind, Morrow, 1989 [Canada goose], Lizard in the Sun. Morrow/Mulberry, 1990. Sea Elf. Morrow, 1993. [sea otter]. Winter Whale. Morrow/Mulberry, 1991.

Ryder, Joanne. The Snail’s Spell. Illus. Lynne Cherry. New York: Penguin Puffin, 1982. Outstanding Science Books for Young Children. Child imagines being the size of a snail.

Dr. Seuss. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971. One of the earliest and most popular picture book fantasies with a modern ecological message. Colorful drawings, fantasy creatures, and amusing rhymes dramatize the transformation from a beautiful landscape inhabited by animals and birds, to the bleak ruins left by a greedy industrialist who destroyed all the resources with his factories.

Swinburne, Stephen R. Moon in Bear's Eyes. Illus. Crista Forrest. Millbrook Pr, 1998. A day in the life of a grizzly bear family in Yellowstone National Park. Includes factual information on this endangered species as well as elaborate oil paintings.

Tashlin, Frank. The Bear That Wasn't. Dover Children's Thrift Classic. New York: Dover, 1946. A bear wakes up from hibernation to find a factory built above his den. A series of executives convince him he's a lazy man in disguise, not a bear, because he is in a factory, not a zoo or circus. After months of working in the factory, it closes and the confused bear freezes above ground until he realizes that he really is a bear and will be most comfortable hibernating in a cave. Detailed line drawings and variations in type size dramatize the crowded absurdity of human activity around the factory, in executive offices, and in the zoo and circus.

Van Allsburg, Chris. Just a Dream. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. A picture book fantasy in which a boy’s dream teaches him the importance of preserving the environment and planting trees in his neighborhood.

Wahl, Jan. Once When the World Was Green. Illus. Fabricio Vandenbroeck. A cautionary tale with talking animals inspired by Mayan mythology when Wahl lived in Mexico. "I began to imagine a Mayan kind of first family. . . . The paintings in this book [acrylics and colored pencils on textured paper] reflect animals and geography found around La Ruta Maya" ("A Note on the Source"). Corn Grower begins killing animals to make himself ornaments and luxuries, but his wife Moon-Sun disapproves. When the eagle takes their child, Corn Grower suffers and gives up his his foolish possessions during a painful quest to find his son.

Wildsmith, Brian and Rebecca. Jack and the Meanstalk. New York: Knopf, 1994. A wild and colorful story of Professor Jack's misguided attempts to make his vegetables grow faster with chemicals. Animals who decide to gnaw the roots underground save the village from the destructive effects of Jack's giant plant at ground level and save the world from the space monster lurking at the top of the plant, where the giant resides in old Jack tales. This Jack changes from a kind of mad scientist to a gardener who learns that his vegetables grow quite well when he "let[s] nature take its course."

Wildsmith, Brian. Professor Noah’s Spaceship. New York: Oxford U P, 1980. Employs gentle humor and science fiction to save all the animals from being destroyed on the polluted earth. Unlike foolhardy Professor Jack, Professor Noah is the clever builder of a spaceship that can take the animals to an unspoiled planet. An elephant inadvertently brings about a happier solution, accidentally setting the time-guidance system to work backwards, so that they can return to the earth in its original, unpolluted condition. At the end a grateful otter makes an understated reference to the biblical setting in which they have landed by observing that "there seems to have been some flooding here."

Wood, Douglas. Old Turtle. Illus. Cheng-Khee Chee. Duluth, MN: Pfeifer-Hamilton, 1992. N. pag. A story with a biblical tone that blends fable, creation tale, and philosophical argument as wise Old Turtle foresees the coming of humans, stops arguments over the nature of God and environmental destruction by humans, and helps people see God in one another and the earth at the end.

Yorinks, Arthur. Hey, Al. Illus. Richard Egielski. 1986. (Caldecott Medal 1987) A New York janitor and his dog have strange adventure with birds in an island paradise and learn “there’s no place like home.”

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Interactions between Humans and the Natural Environment

Arnosky, Jim. Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. Eleventh in the series of wildlife guides featuring Crinkleroot, "an explorer and wildlife finder." He's a folksy old bearded man (based on nineteenth-century naturalist John Burroughs), accompanied by his snake Sassafrass and his walking stick bear. This book stresses the basic needs of animals (food, cover, and water), and explains briefly different types of habitats: wetlands, woodlands, roadsides, cornfields, grasslands, drylands. Over 80 different wildlife species are depicted and labeled in the colorful illustrations.

Bash, Barbara. In the Heart of the Village: The World of the Indian Banyan Tree. New York: Sierra Club Books for Children, 1996. Many human activities and the lives of other animals revolve around the sacred banyan tree. Includes a myth about the creation of the banyan tree by Nirantali, the first mother of the earth who provided the trees for shade from the hot sun. See other books by Bash in the Natural Habitats section above.

Brown, Ruth. The World that Jack Built. New York: Dutton, 1991. A black cat and blue butterfly discover the effects of industrial pollution from "the factory that Jack built" on the natural landscape. By painting the stream as it turns pretty colors before we are disgusted by blackened land and sky, Brown shows that pollution can be appear deceptively beautiful at times.

Brown, Ruth. The Picnic. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1992. Focuses on the point of view of the animals above and below ground whose lives are disrupted by humans having a picnic with their dog, until rain chases away the people and the animals can picnic on their scraps. Brown has illustrated many other realistic and fantastic animal stories with her beautiful paintings.

Brown, Ruth. Ten Seeds. New York: Knopf, 2001. "Ten seeds–one ant. Nine seeds–one pigeon. Eight seeds–one mouse. . . .” This counting book incorporates the life cycle of a sunflower. After ten seeds are planted, nine are lost to various natural forces, but the flower that bloom produces more seeds.

Cherry, Lynne. The Dragon and the Unicorn. NY: Gulliver Green Book/Harcourt Brace, 1995. A dragon and unicorn help a princess save an old growth forest. See more at Dragons in Picture Books.

Cherry, Lynne. The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest. New York: Gulliver Green Book/Harcourt Brace, 1990. A picture book by a writer, illustrator and environmental activist. A community of animals and a native child speak to a man while he sleeps, convincing him of the interdependence of living things in the forest and the disadvantages of cutting down trees. Many animals make their home in the Kapok Tree. Maps and some background on the Amazon Rain Forest are included.

Cone, Molly. Come Back, Salmon. Illus. Sidnee Wheelwright. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994. Nonfiction with photos on how a group of kids brought Pigeon Creek back to life.

Dorfman, Gillian. Our World in Danger. Illus. Tony Morris and Christ Reed. World Wildlife Fund. Loughborough, England: Ladybird Books, 1986. Focuses on human impact on animals.

George, Jean CraigheadOne Day in the Tropical Rain Forest.  New York:  Harper Trophy, 1990.  An illustrated chapter book for early readers in which a native boy and a  scientist find a rare butterfly and stop the destruction of the forest.  George's other books in this series include One Day in the Woods, 1988 (on eastern woodland ecology), One Day in the Alpine Tundra, One Day in the Prairie, One Day in the Desert.  

Giono, Jean. The Man Who Planted Trees. Transl. Jean Roberts. Toronto: CBC Enterprises, 1989. The story is also available on audiotape and the film (by Radio-Canada) won an Oscar in 1987 for the best short animated film and other film awards. An edition by Direct Cinema Limited has pastel illustrations based on the film's animation by Frederic Back (1995). Another edition has wood engravings by Michael McCurdy (Chelsea Green Pub., 1987). The fictional hero, Elzard Bouffier, "a man of great simplicity and determination," travels to Provence, France, with his dog and sheep, after losing his family. He builds a stone house and spends a lifetime (through World War I and World War II) planting an oak forest, transforming a barren land into a fertile one. Giono (a prolific French author and well-known pacifist, 1895-1970) said his purpose "was to make people love the tree, or more precisely, to make them love planting trees" (cover of Chelsea Green ed.). Compare with stories of Johnny Appleseed (see books by Kellogg and Lindbergh).

Hoberman, Mary Ann. A House is a House for Me. Illus. Betty Fraser. New York: Viking, 1978. Has rhymes on animal habitats and other “homes,” and earth as house for all.

Lindbergh, Reeve. Johnny Appleseed. Illus. Kathy Jakobsen. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990. N. pag. The text is a poem about Johnny's life, from the point of view of Hannah Goodwin, who saw him often. Notes in the back tell about the real 18th-century man John Chapman, a Christian Swedenborgian missionary who believed in living a simple life in harmony with the natural world, who gave trees to poor families and was kind to all creatures and respected by Indians; he spread apples across frontier because settlers couldn't carry trees. Illustrations have quilt design borders, apples in four corners, little scenes of nature, farms, and families, plus full-page paintings in a folk art style. (See also Kellogg's Johnny Appleseed in Transformations section above.)

Luenn, Nancy. Squish! A Wetland Walk. Illus. Ronald Himler. New York: Atheneum, 1994. A child observes the ecology of the wetlands.

MacGill-Callahan, Sheila. And Still the Turtle Watched. Illus. Barry Moser. New York: Puffin Pied Piper, 1991. N. pag. Tells the story of a stone turtle housed at the New York Botannical Gardens. An old Delaware man carved him to serve as "the eyes of Manitou the All-Father to watch the Delaware people and he will be our voice to speak to Manitou." The turtle watches strangers who do not speak to Manitou take over the land and pollute it. Modern teenagers spray graffiti on the turtle but a wise man discovers and rescues the turtle so that children come again to visit it in the garden.

McCloskey, Robert. Time of Wonder. New York: Penguin Puffin, 1957. A family experiences summer changes, including hurricane, on Penobscot Bay islands.

McHarry, Jan. The Great Recycling Adventure: A Life-the-Flap Look at Old Things Made New. Illus. Edmond Davis and Piers Sanford. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1994. A large book with flaps and crowded, colorful illustrations showing how recycling processes work for paper, metal, plastics, glass, and textiles.

Mills, Patricia. On an Island in the Bay. New York: North-South, 1994. Photographs of Chesapeake Bay.

Murphy, Jim. Into the Deep Forest with Henry David Thoreau. Illus. Kate Kiesler. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995. Based on Thoreau’s journal; story of woodland journey.

Romanova, Natalia. Once There Was a Tree. Illus. Gennady Spirin. New York: Puffin Pied Piper, 1985. How various creatures and man use a tree stump and how it decays.

Ryder, Joanne. Dancers in the Garden. Illus. Judith Lopez. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books for Children, 1992. Poetic text and soft watercolors show hummingbird life in a garden. The Author's Note gives information on hummingbirds and how to watch them in your garden.

Udry, Janice May. A Tree Is Nice. Illus. Marc Simont, 1956. Winner of Caldecott Medal. Shows planting of trees and many advantages the tree provides.

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Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Human Homes and the Environment

Burton, Virginia Lee. The Little House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942. A classic picture book about a house that sees its environment change from rural to urban—polluted and crowded. Wish-fulfillment brings a happy ending when the house is moved back to the country.

Cherry, Lynne. A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History. New York: Harcourt/Gulliver Green, 1992. An environmental history of the Nashua River, from its discovery by Native Americans, through industrial pollution and modern cleanup campaigns. (Some critics find this book more satisfying in its treatment of ecology than Cherry's famous The Great Kapok Tree.)

Cooney, Barbara. Island Boy. New York: Penguin Puffin, 1988. A family saga about changes through generations on a Maine island.

Couture, Christin. The House on the Hill. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1991. Children visit and play in empty house.

Daem, Mary. The House on the Top of the Hill. Illus. Donald Leake. Lexington, MA: Ginn and Co., 1972. N. Pag. Benjamin Boggle is recluse in funny, crooked house until wind blows everything away, villagers build him a new house, and they become friends.

Dragonwagon, Crescent. Homeplace. Illus. Jerry Pinkney. New York: Macmillan/Aladdin, 1990. A ruined house in the woods evokes images of family home.

Fleischman, Paul. Weslandia. Illus. Kevin Hawkes. See annotation above under Transformations.

Goffstein, Brooke. A House, A Home. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. Brief text links the house with body parts and human feelings about home. Photographs show details of an empty house.

Halthorn, Libby. Way Home. Illus. Gregory Rogers. New York: Crown, 1994. Boy takes a cat through rough city streets to his home, in a corner of an alley (by Australians).

Isadora, Rachel. City Seen from A to Z. New York: Trumpet Club, 1983. City environment through a child’s eyes.

Locker, Thomas. Family Farm. New York: Puffin Pied Piper, 1988. Beautiful paintings accompany story of economic hardships in a farm community.

Manning, Mick. A Ruined House. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 1994. Information on animal and plant inhabitants accompany easy-to-read story of deserted farmhouse. From the Read and Wonder Series, combining picture book art and nonfiction. Manning, "an avid conservationist, . . . wrote this book so that readers would know that ruins are not sad places, but are full of life."

Norman, Lilith. The Paddock: A Story in Praise of the Earth. Illus. Robert Roennfeldt. New York: Knopf, 1992. The creation and changes in history of an Australian patch of ground.

Pinkney, Gloria Jean. Back Home. Illus. Jerry Pinkney. New York: Penguin/Dial, 1992. Girl visits family farm.

Provenson, Alice and Martin. Shaker Lane. New York: Penguin Puffin, 1987. A reservoir and new homes replace the neighborhood of Shaker Lane.

Rosen, Michael J., ed. Home: A Collaboration of Thirty Distinguished Authors and Illustrators of Children’s Books to Aid the Homeless. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Rylant, Cynthia. Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds. Illus. Barry Moser. 1991. Depictions of regional rural life.

Rylant, Cynthia. When I Was Young in the Mountains. Illus. Diane Goode. New York: Puffin Unicorn, 1982. Description of Appalachian life in childhood about 100 years ago.

Smucker, Anna Egan. No Star Nights. Illus. Steve Johnson. New York: Knopf/Dragonfly, 1989. Memories of a WV town during and after the heyday of steel mills. Nostalgia about childhood pleasures overshadows images of pollution and slag heaps.

Wiesner, David. Hurricane. New York: Clarion, 1990. Shows the effects on family and nature of a hurricane; a fallen tree becomes boys’ fantasy world.

Yolen, Jane. Encounter. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1992. A native boy’s view of the landing of Columbus.

Yolen, Jane. Letting Swift River Go. Illus. Barbara Cooney. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995. A child faces the disadvantages and benefits of building a reservoir.

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Elements to Look for in Picture Books on Environments

See also Background Resources on Environmental Literature for Teachers and Scholars

Course Project:  Integrating Ecological Principles and the Humanities to Improve Environmental Education

Assignments and Study Guide on Contemporary American Picture Books

General Guidelines for Teaching with Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, Fables, Ballads, and Other Short Works of Folklore


This page created June 2002  |   Top of Page   |   Last update July 28, 2010

Tina L. Hanlon