A review of Trouble On Earth Day by Kathy Stemke

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Trouble on Earth Day
by Kathy Stemke
Illustrations by Kurt Wilcken
Wild Plains Press
Paperback: 44 pages, September 30, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-1936021369

We’ve all heard that we have to re-think, re-use, and re-cycle, but how many of our children have concrete ideas on how to do that? How many picture books for young children support the notion? Kathy Stemke’s Trouble on Earth Day does just that. There’s not actually a lot of trouble, but when young shelby wins the Earth Day poster competition, she’s full of enthusiasm for the principles that she uses in her winning sign – “Re-think, Re-use and Re-cycle”. Shelby and her parents brainstorm a bunch of ideas for doing those things, and then, when she finds a bluebird who has lost its home, Shelby puts her newfound recycling capability to good use and saves the day.

Trouble on Earth Day is a simple book that is easy for very young children to understand and for early readers to read themselves. Kurt Wilcken’s bright cartoon images have lots of fun detail (like a baseball cap on the guitar playing bird), and children will relate to the vivacious young animals. The first half of the book features the story, and the second half is activities that kids can do around Earth Day. These include word matches, a sing-along, discussion points, games, and lots of crafts, both indoor and outdoor. Homeschoolers and pre-school teachers will particularly enjoy using this book, and the lesson plan in the back makes it easy.

This is a lovely, valuable offering that will help turn ecological interest into real learning, fun activities, and environmental activism that will grow with children.