Learning about the diversity of habitats for and interconnectedness of living things can be challenging for kids. There are many different concepts to understand. A new book from children and nature publisher Dawn Publications focuses on this topic, and does so wonderfully. In Nature’s Patchwork Quilt: Understanding Habitats, Mary Miché and illustrator Consie Powell use the metaphor of a patchwork quilt to show how organisms are essentially stitched to their habitats, and likewise all our connected to other animals and habitats.
Concepts such as biodiversity, niche, food chain, adaptation, domestication, and extinction (and many more!) are discussed while the artwork abounds with a variety of landscapes, plants, and animals. While reading through the book, my son enjoyed that in some of the representations of different habitats, among the variety of animals shown – as quilt pieces – you can find a person. A woman looking at a tree stump in one, a man looking through binoculars in another; a girl smelling a flower here, a boy exploring under water there. For Patrick, this ensured the understanding that humans are part of nature, not removed or separate from it. Inserting people into the variety of animals shown is a nice touch in this book. Here’s a sample page:
A page near the end of the book also introduces to the reader a number of environmentalists, both past and present. While the names Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Edward O. Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt are familiar, new to us are such nature lovers as Archie Carr, Tierney Thys, William Hornaday, Margaret Murie, and Roger Payne (I am familiar with others that Patrick is not, like David Suzuki, Sylvia Earle, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Henry David Thoreau, and Aldo Leopold). The last section offers information for teachers and parents, as well as related activities.
Nature’s Patchwork Quilt is an attractive and effective introduction to ecology and environmentalism for children aged 4 to 10. It is well worth having in your classroom library, home bookshelf, or requesting your local library to purchase.
Note: we were sent a copy of this book for review by the publisher, as well as another of their recent books, which is also beautiful and informative: Granny’s Clan: A Tale of Wild Orcas, which “combines science with the real story of how family, friendship, and a grandmother’s love are helping this magnificent but endangered orca clan to survive.”