BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: A Climate in Chaos (available here)
Author/illustrator: Neal Layton
Publisher: Wren & Rook
Publication Date: May 2020
Last summer I had the joy of meeting illustrator Neal Layton and watching him engage a room full of children and adults in a live draw-a-long. We were all drawing Emily Brown and her toy rabbit. “Everyone can be an artist,” he convinced the crowd (‘yes, everyone,’ he reassured the adults) – and you could tell from the budding illustrations around the room that his words of inclusivity bred the right confidence to get involved. This week Neal is back with his new picture book, A Climate in Chaos, and with it, he brings another message meant for one and all – everyone lives on Planet Earth, and therefore everyone (and everything) is affected by climate change and can be empowered to make a difference.
Many young readers will not be unfamiliar with this message. There’s a brilliant double-page spread near the beginning of the book that depicts the abundance of messages from different channels – all talking about climate change. The child in the story hears ‘climate change’ but wonders what it is, and the rest of the book sets about to explain it.
Readers are presented with clear information about how climate change has come to be, how it is affected by human behaviour and the science behind what humans and animals are experiencing. Explanations are clear, child-friendly and engaging without undermining the seriousness of the issue. Young readers are likely to further engage through Neal’s trademark style of collage images that combine photographs with drawn characters, speech bubbles and playful asides. Animals feature prominently in the illustrations, and this helps appeal to the younger readership as well as highlighting the role of humans in influencing the plight of the animal world too.
The book provides a pleasing section at the end that explains positive steps to address climate change, including some of the innovations in sustainable living and inspiration for what the future could look like. In my opinion, this sets the book apart from other picture books on the topic; the positive steps to address climate change include the important personal, practical steps (like recycling and reducing food waste), but also the wider changes that could inspire a future generation of engineers, architects and scientists to think big and imagine what it will be like to be a sustainable homeowner or vehicle driver in the future. The final page references three children who have been influential in climate change and ends with a challenge to the reader – can you think of a big idea to help save the planet?. Everyone can make a difference, the author wants them to know, and now’s the time for us all to engage.
Stylish, informative and forward-looking, don’t let the word ‘chaos’ in the title put you off from this winner of a book suitable the whole primary school age range.
Many thanks to the publishers at Wren & Rook for sending us a review copy.