Monday, April 28, 2014

Science Poetry Pairings - Water (Again!)

When I began writing these posts I was surprised at just how many poetry books I have on the subject of water. And since I have a number of nonfiction picture books as well, one post just wasn't sufficient to share my favorites with you. That means I'm back today with a second installment on dihydrogen monoxide (H2O).

Today's book pairing is about water, the amazing liquid of life.

Poetry Book
How to Cross a Pond: Poems About Water, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Meilo So, is one of three in a series of nature books. The trim size is small, but don't let that fool you. These little gems are filled with Meilo So's gorgeous India ink drawings on rice paper (all shades of blue in this work) and Singer's fabulous poems that in turn will make you laugh then nod and smile in agreement. Here is one of my favorites.
Fair-Weather Friend
I'm a fair-weather friend to the rain.
A week of it in April and I complain.
No talk of tulips or daisies
          will cancel my crazies.
I've no use for that showers-and-flowers refrain.

But soon, day after midsummer day,
When the sky never seems to turn gray,
I'm so tired of the haze
          and the sun's steady blaze,
I wish the rain would remember to come down
          and play!
Poem ©Marilyn Singer. All rights reserved.

Singer has deftly captured the nature of water in this collection, with 19 poems that cover water in a range of forms and places.

Nonfiction Picture Book
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth, written by Rochelle Strauss and illustrated by Rosemary Woods, tells the story of our planet's most precious resource and provides an instructive and often-times inspiring look at water. Inspiring? Absolutely. Strauss reminds us that the amount of water on Earth hasn't ever changed. Since this water has been around for billions of year, it is entirely possible that the water you drink may have "quenched the thirst of a dinosaur" more than one hundred million years ago. The double page spreads provide both informational paragraphs and short, factual boxed insets, beginning with the distribution of water on earth, the water cycle, water's essential role in life on Earth and watery habitats. From here, the author looks at how people use, need and access water. The book concludes by looking at demands on the well, pollution, and saving our water.

Here's how the book begins:
Imagine for a moment that all the water on Earth came from just one well.
This isn't as strange as it sounds. All water on Earth is connected, so there really is just one source of water--one global well--from which we all draw water.
There is much in this book that kids will connect with. The author has done a superb job using simplified ratios to help make concepts understandable. For example, in describing how much freshwater is available to meet our needs, she writes:
Most of the water on Earth is saltwater--almost 97 percent. Only 3 percent is freshwater. If a tanker truck filled with water represented all the water on Earth, then the water used to fill a large bathtub would represent all of the planet's freshwater.
Text ©Rochelle Strauss. All rights reserved.

This is precisely the kind of comparison kids need to put descriptions of such vast quantities in perspective. The author goes on to discuss how over 99 percent of this freshwater is frozen in icecaps and glaciers or otherwise unavailable, and provides an even more startling measurement to represent the freshwater we can actually access for our use.

As the book draws to a close, it might be easy to get discouraged upon realizing the fragility of the resource we depend upon for our very lives. However, the approach of the author is not heavy-handed. A final section on becoming "Well Aware" provides readers with concrete suggestions for ways that they can make a difference. The book concludes with notes to the adults (parents, guardians and teachers) who will read this book with children.

Perfect Together
Both sets of books can be used to introduce students to our most precious resource. They will not only teach readers about the importance of water, but can help move them to action in an effort to conserve it.

For additional resources, consider these sites.

1 comment:

  1. I love HOW TO CROSS A POND, which I only just learned of this month. It is gorgeous! And I love ONE WELL, too. Winners, both of these!