A wise man recently told me you need to learn one thing new every day.

Today I learned about the Boreal forest; the web of connections; wind-pollinated plants; the power of water; and the importance of crying.

Not bad for five picture books.

Why Do We Cry

One day a little boy asks his mother why we cry. And she answers him with all the reasons one may cry – from sadness so great you can’t contain it or because you are so angry that when tears are released, you feel better. But we also cry because we have lost or way or we have found a wall we can’t climb.

“Sometimes we cry because we can’t find the right words. Lucky for us, tears speak an infinite language.”

But perhaps, more importantly, we cry because we feel like it.

A beautiful story about the importance of getting in touch with your feelings, whatever they are. I also liked the fact it’s a little boy who asks his mother about crying, showing him that it is OK to cry.

Why Do We Cry is by Fran Pintadera and illustrated by Ana Sender ($18.99, Kids Can Press).

Front cover image of The Boreal Forest with a horned animal eating grass
This picture book offers a look at a year in the world’s largest land biome.

The Boreal Forest, A Year in the World’s Largest Land Biome

I actually do not know much about the Boreal forest, other than it is in Canada. In fact, Canada only holds a small part of it, with 29 per cent residing in this country. Sixty per cent of the planet’s largest land-based biome is actually located in Russia, with the United States claiming four per cent, followed by Finland and Sweden at two per cent. Other places in the world have one per cent of its size.

In this book by L.E. Carmichael and illustrated by Josee Bisaillon ($19.99, Kids Can Press) we learn a whole lot more about this forest.

There is so much information, I confess I focused on the bits about Canada.

The book offers an overview about the forest, then breaks down what the forest looks like in each of the seasons in each of the countries listed. There is also pop outs bits of information such as the fact in Canada, the forest evolved without earthworms. However, these creatures have invaded the forest, likely dumped by sportsfishers, and are causing a whole lot of trouble. The earthworms are able to eat entire layer of litter in less than five years, releasing carbon “that should have stayed trapped in the soil. Soils without litter also tend to be drier, to the point that some Boreal plants can not longer survive.”

This is one of those books that you can’t possibly read in one sitting, but you can come back to it, learning about the creatures and plants that call these areas home.

Front cover image of Bringing Back the Wolves with a wolf howling on a cliff overlooking mountains
Bringing Back the Wolves offers a look at what happened to Yellowstone park after wolves were reintroduced.

Bringing Back the Wolves, How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem

I have read and watched a lot about how the eradication of the beautiful wolf from Yellowstone Park completely changed, and you could argue, destroyed this national park. This book shares what the park was like with the wolves, how it became without them, and how it came back thanks to 41 elk-eating wolves from Montana and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

The story of how the wolves helped this natural area directly and indirectly makes me cheer inside and gives me hope that perhaps humans will eventually get it (until you read the above mentioned earthworm dumping).

There is lots of information about the relationship between wolves and everything from invertebrates and woody plants and grasses to scavenger, coyotes and streams.

I also liked the illustrations in this book, except the bugs, but that has more to do with me than Smith’s illustrations.

Bringing Back the Wolves is by Jude Isabella and illustrated by Kim Smith ($19.99. Kids Can Press)

Front cover image of Nature All Around Plants will illustrated plants, flowers and creatures
Learn about plants – how they work, their parts and how to identify them in this Kids Can Press book

Nature All Around Plants

In this book by Pamela Hickman and illustrated by Carolyn Gavin, we learn about plants, their parts and how they work in spring, summer, fall and winter.

We learn about pollination by bees and wind (wild rice is pollinated by wind and as such its flowers are colours, odourless and nectar-less. Instead, they grow on spikes, making it easier to release in the wind). The book talks about plant habitats and offers a beginners guide to plant watching, including a list of poisonous plants, strange plants and endangered plants. Hickman also offers instructions on how to grow microgreens – although I would suggest you avoid growing anything inside if you have kittens.

This book retails for $19.99 and is by Kids Can Press.

Front cover image of We are Water Protectors of a little girl holding a feather and standing in water.
We are water and its sacred, writes the author in this beautiful picture book.

We Are Water Protectors

In this picture book by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade a little girl learns about water, the world’s first medicine from her grandmother. The grandmother tells the little girl that we come from water, that it is sacred and we must protect it from a “black snake that will destroy the land”

“Now the black snake is here. Its venom burns the land. Courses through the water, making it unsafe to drink.”

The little girl takes courage and fights to keep the black snake away from the water, and protect Earth.

In the author’s note, Lindstrom talks about an Anishinaabe prophecy that speaks of two roads: a nature path that if chosen protects the Earth and all who live in it; while the second one is a “hard-surfaced highway where everything moves faster and faster, at an unimaginable speak.” It’s a road that disregards Mother Nature.

“Many Native Nations believe this path is symbolized by the oil pipelines, the ‘black snakes’ the crisscross our lands, bringing destruction and harm. This path leads to a damaged Earth.”

We Are Water Protectors is a beautiful book. Regardless of where you stand on the oil pipeline project, the message is important and the illustrations are glorious.

We Are the Water Protectors retails for $24.50 and is from Raincoast Books.

A copy of these books were provided by Kids Can Press and Raincoast Books
for an honest review. The opinions are my own.