Prather’s Pick: Nourishing Mother Earth | CraigDailyPress.com

Prather’s Pick: Nourishing Mother Earth

Recycling is the focus of this week's picture book for children — not the recycling of bottles and cans but instead the use of items such as eggshells, bananas, and coffee grounds to make a rich compost with which to nourish Mother Earth.

"Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth" was written by Mary McKenna Siddals and illustrated by Ashley Wolff. The book is published by Tricycle Press (copyright 2010).

The book is written in rhyming style, featuring all of the letters of the alphabet. The illustrations were done using gouache and collage. The collage is in The book begins: "Environmental chefs, here's a recipe for you to fix from scratch to mix a batch of compost stew."

That's just what some kids are getting ready to do — make a compost stew. A red-haired girl and a spotted dog with "organic" written on his collar, the main characters in the story, are getting ready to put some items into a rather large black pot. Some other kids are collecting items for the stew.

This is a fascinating environmental book. The teacher in me can think of lots of ways that it could be used in teaching an environmental unit. For example, students might fill a bulletin board with pictures of ingredients for a compost stew.

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The ingredients are listed in rhyme, following the ABCs. For example, there are "apple cores, bananas bruised, and coffee grounds with filters used." Some of the other items are what a person might not recognize as ingredients to nourish the earth. They include hair snippings, laundry lint, quarry dust, and teabags. In winter the compost ingredients include tree needles and yellow pine shavings.

So, what do the kids do after they have collected the ingredients? They "moisten, toss lightly, cover, and let brew." Before long they have a product that can be added to soil.

A "Chef's Note" at the back of the book explains what not to include in the compost stew, such as plastic, packing foam, or chemicals. An "Author's Note" at the beginning of the book explains what happens when compost is added to the soil. A web site is included.

The end pages of the book are decorated with some organic items and worms.

This is a fascinating environmental book. The teacher in me can think of lots of ways that it could be used in teaching an environmental unit. For example, students might fill a bulletin board with pictures of ingredients for a compost stew. Even better, they might collect real items to make compost.

Author Mary McKenna Siddals, who has written several children's books, lives in British Columbia, Canada. Ashley Wolff is the author/illustrator of more than sixty "Compost Stew" sells for $15.99 in hardcover. You can also find it in the children's room at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.