CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007
Public opinion polls have revealed that climate change and concerns over the environment are the top public priority in 2007. For years, governments have been dismissing the observations of farmers and fishermen, as well as the warnings of scientists, citing potential difficulties for the national economy. But the damage caused by changing weather patterns - flooding, drought, extreme storms - has forced them to acknowledge that real change in the way society operates is essential. As a result, alternate energy production is a topic with which children are familiar and interested, and it is included in science curricula. Crabtree Publishing has jumped on the bandwagon to produce books that will fit the bill for students who are learning about substitutes for polluting gas and oil.
The four books in this series describe energy sources that can be used to run our cars, heat our homes and power industry. The information is divided into two-page chapters that elaborate where the energy source originates, how it is converted, and issues surrounding its production and use. Each book begins with a Table of Contents page that has a copy of the World War II vintage poster "Rosie the Riveter." A contemporary young girl, also dressed as Rosie, is also shown. The message is that, together, we can accomplish the societal goal of energy conservation and the development of alternative sources, much as society pulled together and conserved to support the war effort during World War II. The modern Rose appears in small fact boxes sprinkled throughout the pages, offering suggestions about how to conserve energy.
The chapters are precisely written and contain information that answers most questions about each form of energy. The explanations are clear and would enable a young researcher to understand readily how wind power, fuel cells, or solar panels generate energy. Well-labelled diagrams outline the process of converting the source material into energy. The glossy white pages have brightly coloured pictures with good captions. Most inspiring for children will be the snapshots of conservation projects that have been implemented all over the world.
There are issues that make alternative energy production costly or unpopular. Biomass requires a completely new infrastructure to be built, but that cannot be done unless there is sufficient demand. While biomass produces less pollution than fossil fuels when burned, it is more polluting than other alternative sources. Many people oppose having wind farms constructed on sea shores because the view of the water is obstructed. Other people find the whirring noise created by the blades ruins their quality of life. The books address these and other issues.
The last page contains a brief glossary that defines words bolded in the text. Some of the explanations are quite brief (e.g. World War I - A war that took place largely on European soil between 1939 and 1945). That's a tad simplistic, to say the least, but perhaps a matter for another book. An index follows on the same page as the glossary.
Our planet will be in serious trouble if we do not develop the consciousness and practices to produce and use energy more wisely and try to repair some of the damage already done by human activity. National economies will suffer from the consequence of extreme weather and climate change.
It's the next generation of children who will pay the price unless they act more responsibly than their parents. The understanding that children can develop from these books can prepare them for advanced studies later in their school life and hopefully better energy practices as adults.
The “Energy Revolution” series would be a welcome addition to a school library collection.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.