Reviews /

Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet

Authored by Kate Peridot
Illustrated by Sarah Long
Published by Walker Books

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Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet: With its utilitarian but vibrantly bright green front cover – populated with an array of more or less recognisable faces – Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet aims straight to the point with the immediacy of its message: our planet is in danger, and it’s down to anyone with a passion for the natural world, anywhere in the world, to choose a mission, a course of action, a project, however small they may be, and contribute to saving it.

The author, Kate Peridot, and the illustrator, Sarah Long, have selected and described mostly ordinary individuals, who have in common the passion for the natural world and a gained awareness of how, daily, human life limits and endangers the existence of other creatures every day, even pushing them to extinction. Amongst the remarkable profiles included, David Attenborough’s is likely to be the most familiar to UK readers, but personally I found the stories of the other conservationists even more fascinating and resonant. There is young American Mikaila Ulmer, who, learning about bees after being stung twice when little, found not only the courage to play outside again, but has become a ‘bee champion’, supporting local charities for bee-protection through selling her own honey-sweetened lemonade! Inuit Canadian Sheila Watt-Cloutier fights daily for the protection of the Arctic eco-system and the preservation of Inuit culture and customs; she organised the first ever legal action on climate change against a country (USA). Samburu warrior Jeneria Lekilelei from Kenya, changed his life from lion killer to committed lion protector, when he realised the life and culture of his community depended on the welfare of the lions they shared their environment with, despite the dangers to livestock: with the help of a charity and the use of technology, lions and human beings have found a mutually advantageous way to live on the same land.

I love how the author and illustrator have been able to capture the true relevance of these otherwise anonymous individuals’ actions and missions, onto informative, detailed, vibrant and engaging double-page spreads. It is also truly commendable that these profiles reflect the diversity of the individuals and cultures on our planet today: western and global, men and women, young and old, scientists and common people, here is a vast spectrum of contexts and voices representing the urgency felt for conservation and the defence of the natural world, around the globe.

If ever there was a right time and an ideal target audience for information books about our planet and the perilous state it is in, today’s school age children, their teachers and families are certainly that audience. It is only through informing and raising awareness amongst young people, that we have any hope of leaving behind a safer environment for all on Earth. Books like Caring Conservationists are invaluable in bringing such sensitive and urgent issues to the attention to the very generations who are most likely to suffer the repercussions of our actions. This is a political book in the most dignified and noble sense of the word: raising the issues, suggesting solutions, it invites the young to become ethically aware, to reflect and discuss, and hopefully to take strong action.

Ideal from Lower KS2 through to KS3, this book should be on the shelves of every school or classroom library. It would be excellent as a focus text during Earth Day celebrations and lessons; be an excellent additional text in Science sessions around biodiversity; would sustain specific conservation-centred, hands-on activities, thanks to well-conceived and inspired suggestions on every double-page chapter.