Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature


Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature
by Jim Arnosky
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2012.  48 pgs.  Nonfiction

     Jim Arnosky's gentle old backwoodsman teaches kids simple things to do to restore nature while enjoying it.  Most of Crinkleroots ideas require a simple give and take.  "Sometimes giving back to Nature means helping provide food when an animal is hungry."  So if you put a birdfeeder in your yard, you can give the birds food.  Sunflower seeds for blue jays, grosbeaks, and chickadees; millet for pigeons, sparrows, and juncos, etc.  If you give to Nature by smearing peanut butter and sunflower seeds on a tree trunk, Nature may bring a woodpecker into your yard for dinner. Some of Crinkleroot's suggestions seem obvious:  pick up your trash, use your dead leaves and grass clippings to make compost, etc. Some ideas were new to me:  don't let your dogs and cats outside in the winter because they may keep birds away from their food, or chase animals like deer who need to conserve their energy to survive in the cold.  One of the best things about this book is that it doesn't have the accusatory tone that many "green" books have; i.e., human have wrecked nature so shame on you and back off.  On the contrary, Crinkleroot welcomes children's interactions with the wild world.  If you catch a bug or a lizard, don't keep it longer than fifteen minutes and then try to return it to exactly where you found it.  If you aren't fishing for food, Crinkleroot explains how to catch and release smaller fish without harming them.  Interactivity is also a hallmark of the book.  Crinkleroot describes how and why to leave a corner of your lawn wild, and then invites his young readers to find the creatures that will live there--two caterpillars, one snail, a garter snake, etc.  Some of the recommendations in this book will need to be adapted for children living in desert country.  For instance, if you plant a tree in Utah and only water it a week until the rain takes over . . . . Not happening.  Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature is a fantastic primer for youngsters curious about the natural world who want to live gently in it. 

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