Book Review: “Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus”

You only have one home. It’s a big one, full of hills and mountains, lakes, rivers and oceans. Sometimes, it storms there; it can be sunny or cloudy and in other places, it’s dry. It’s likely that you’ll never leave this home for as long as you live, nor would you want to. This home is the planet Earth, and so why not read these books and learn how to take care of it?

Small children who love fish, sharks and other sealife will be thrilled with “Mysterious, Marvelous Octopus” by Paige Towler, foreword by Sy Montgomery (National Geographic Kids, $17.99). Filled with lots of full-color photos of octopi and their habitat, as well as solid cephalopod facts, this book includes a narrative that your 4-to-5-year-old will love, with sidebars and real science that will make a 6-to-8-year-old smile, too.

Your child is going to be one of the next owners of this planet, and taking care of the Earth starts with a wideopen sense of wonder. In “Mushrooms Know” by Kallie George and Sara Gillingham (Greystone Kids, $23.95), your 5-to-8-year-old will learn all about mushrooms, their habitats, and why they’re so cool to observe. This is a surprising book, even for a grown-up and it could open up a whole new world of science for an early-elementary-aged student. One caveat: Your child will absolutely need an adult’s help with some words here, and with determining what mushrooms can and can’t be touched.

For slightly older kids who understand the meaning and urgency of Earth Day, “Be a Nature Explorer! Outdoor Activities and Adventures” by Peter Wohlleben, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich (Greystone Kids, $12.95) may be a fun book this spring and throughout the year. Will your child watch birds, take bark scrapings, or count the number of different creatures that live in a nearby pond or creek? Will they learn how to track animals, how to know if a plant needs water, and how to skip stones, make friends with a spider, and what equipment to take on a day of exploration? Yes, please. With this book in their hands, your 8-to-13-year-old will have a hard time deciding what to do tomorrow – or should they just try everything?

The adult or teen environmentalist in your family will love paging through “What the Bees See,” photographs by Craig P. Burrows (Chronicle Books, $40). We know that bees see along the ultraviolet spectrum, in colors we can only imagine. This book helps that imagination with ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence (UVIVF) photographs showing flowers and other plants a pollinator looks for, all in detailed, vivid colors. But photos are not the only thing that will draw you to this book: Burrows also writes about honey-making, plants and why our very lives depend on making sure bees flourish. This is a book of marvels, one you’ll page through again and again.

If you want more books for Earth Day for you or your child, ask your favorite bookseller or librarian. They’ve got the environmentally-minded books you’ll want to take home.

— The Bookworm Sez