Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Kids' Solar Energy Book: Even Grown-Ups Can Understand

The Kids' Solar Energy Book: Even Grown-Ups Can Understand

Tilly Spetgang, Malcolm Wells
Picture Book
For ages 8 and up
Charlesbridge, 2011   ISBN: 978-1936140466

We are going to join Mrs. Robinson in her classroom. Today she is going to talk about what it means to be an environmentalist in an active and meaningful way. She begins by talking to her students about the fact that Earth belongs to them. They have a role to play in protecting Earth even though they might not feel that they are important. But how can they play a role? They are only kids, right?

   Now they are, but in the not too distant future they will be tax-paying adults and they will come to understand that there are a lot of problems that need to be solved. There are a lot of “injustices” that they will have to address.

   One of the big problems that we humans have is that we are too dependent on oil, an energy source that is not infinite. In fact, we are running out of oil and need to come up with an alternate form of energy and quickly.

   Mrs. Robinson then tells her students about how solar energy was used by people in the past, how people are using it today, and how we can use solar heat (which is free) in all kinds of ways if we are creative. She talks about active and passive solar collecting systems, the need for insulation, and how solar cells work. Then, just to wrap things up, she talks to her students about some experiments that they can try that will help them explore the concepts she has talked about.

   What makes this book so successful is that it is informative and entertaining at the same time. Running along the bottom of every page is a scene from the classroom. We see young people sitting at their desks, goofing off, sleeping, and doing all the other things that students are prone to do. The teacher’s words are at the top of the page, and beneath them are the students’ comments, many of which are funny or sarcastic, intelligent or rather silly. As the narrative unfolds we see how the students start to take in what the teacher is saying, though of course they cannot help cracking jokes as well.