For this post I’m doing something different. I’m reviewing two middle grade nonfiction books from the Orca Footprints series. Why? Mostly because it’s been months since I did a review. But also because I want to share some more good news: I just signed a contract to write a book for this series that will be coming out in 2024!
Stay tuned for more information on my title in the Footprints series but first… the reviews!
Title: Nature out of Balance
How Invasive Species are Changing the Planet
Author: Merrie-Ellen Wilcox
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: February 2021
Title: Design Like Nature:
Biomimicry for a Healthy Planet
Author: Megan Clendenean & Kim Ryall Woolcock
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: March 2021
Nature out of Balance starts with a chapter, “Here, There and Everywhere” which describes what makes a species invasive and how they become that way. Perhaps what I love most about this book is that Wilcox doesn’t wait till the end to reveal the biggest invasive species of all: humans.
From there, Wilcox goes on to explain how ecosystems work, how to prevent species from becoming invasive and what to about species that have already invaded. Each chapter contains several eco facts and invasive all-stars sidebars, which provide details on a wide range of species from zebra mussels and starlings to rats and cats.
Following a similar format, Design Like Nature has facts as call outs and more in-depth sidebars throughout. After a brief introduction, the authors dive in with inventions (like solar panels that convert sun into energy just like plant cells), engineering (how chip bags are like insect exoskeletons) and asking advice from nature (copying fireflies to design LED lights).
In Design Like Nature, however, it was the last chapter I liked the most. Other chapters introduce environmental concepts like plastic pollution and energy wastage but “Reducing our Footprint” really tackles how we can design things to create a better world. Building cooler cities by learning from trees, using bacteria to dye clothes and developing a better wind turbines by observing how fish swim are all good ideas. The authors make them–and many more–seem achievable and feature specific people trying to make change.
Both books have multiple colour photographs throughout each of the four chapters. Like most books in the Footprints series, they also contain back matter that includes acknowledgments, resources, glossary and index. WIth twenty-six books already available and more to come, this series is a great addition to any classroom or library. They also stand alone and these two titles, Design Like Nature and Nature out of Balance, are a great place to start.
Here’s how Orca describes their Footprints series:
“Kids today inhabit a world full of complex—and often mystifying—environmental issues. Orca Footprints aim to help kids answer their questions about the state of the natural world with well-researched, simply-expressed information and powerful images. With topics such as food production, water, cycling and sustainable energy, these books will inspire kids to take action.”
I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of this collection. And now for a little teaser… my book in the series will be about climate change, told from a unique angle.
Curious? Then please watch for updates! And thanks for your support.