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Nods to Nature

Clover is buzz-i-fied by the kaleidoscope of a world springing back to life—how fitting that Earth Day is in April and it's poetry month too. To honor both, your Bee Buddy’s chosen books that offer “Nods to Nature.”

All three reads are beautifully descriptive and encompass the glory of our natural world and its ability to awaken memory, laud a pioneer of conservation and highlight the delicate balance of life in the tale of a courageous young orca.

The Community Literacy Foundation, with support from it's sponsors, provides these books to 37 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

The words rendered by Andrea Wang in “Watercress” will stir readers, as will the softly washed pastel illustrations of Jason Chen, a Caldecott Honoree.

The story of a young girl from China, living in the United States, is based on Wang’s experiences growing up in Ohio. It begins when a Chinese family takes a ride—along the way the girl and her brother’s parents spot watercress growing along the road. Without hesitation, the “old Pontiac,” comes to a halt, and to the girl’s embarrassment her parents begin pulling watercress from the soil, instructing her and her brother to do so too.

Later at the dinner table, when the girl refuses to even taste the free green, preferring store bought, a story is revealed, the watercress causing one of her mother’s memories to well up. When the remembrance from the old country is shared, it impacts the girl, making her rethink the embarrassment she felt about her family.

Ride along with Wang as the past becomes present and history gently unfurls in a book that might bring up tales from the past for other families about food shared and how earth’s gifts sustain life.

Middle Read

“Wilderness: The Words of John Muir,” illustrates the sights Muir experiences in text and delicate, yet powerful, artwork offering readers the opportunity to view the grandeur through the “…naturalist, activist, and writer’s” eyes—forests teeming with wildlife, gleaming mirrored lakes and panoramic vistas laid at his feet, as Muir gazes on in wonder.

“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness,” Muir writes, encouraging us to explore and be mindful of what nature offers. Later in the book, in a verdant illustration, Muir kneels in a field of strewn with blooms, “There is no repose like that in the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet.”

Explore more, with Muir—gifts await.

Oldest Read

You’ll be one with the ocean when you read “A Whale of the Wild,” the story of a female orca and her family by Rosanne Perry. Immerse yourself in this tale about Vega, a young orca who’s trying to figure out her place in the pod, doubting that she’ll ever be a successful hunter like her mother or a wayfinder like her Greatmother.

Vega’s close-knit pod lives in the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest where they search for salmon, the mainstay of their diet. Locating the fish is a constant struggle for the orcas, and Vega wants nothing more than to be a responsible, respected hunter, but in her heart she feels she’ll never be a leader in her family.

When tragedy strikes close to home and Vega is separated from her pod, she discovers she has more grit and gifts than she imagined. Her courage is tested to the umpteenth degree by a tsunami and other challenges as she desperately attempts to reunite with her family.

Though “A Whale of the Wild” is fictional, Parry includes information at the end of her book about orcas, an endangered species, the life cycle of salmon and other interesting factual material.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2021, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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