March 3 – World Wildlife Day

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About the Holiday

In December of 2013 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 3rd as World Wildlife Day to promote awareness of our environment and the dangers to it. This year’s theme is “Listen to the Young Voices.” Nearly one-quarter of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24. With a crucial stake in the preservation of the world’s animals and plants and their habitats, more and more young people are getting involved in the preservation of the environment. Today, find a way to get involved in your community or donate to a wildlife cause. A clean, healthy, and protective environment benefits all.

Lotus & Feather

Written by Ji-li Jiang | Illustrated by Julie Downing

Lotus was lonely since her winter illness had left her without a voice. The children at school “treated her like a strange creature,” and she was left without playmates or someone to keep her company on the walk home. She lived with her grandfather who made reed baskets and found solace when he took her to ride in his boat on the nearby lake. As he poled the boat through the still water, Lotus’ grandfather sadly pointed out how the lake had changed. No longer did the lotus flowers, fish, birds, or animals thrive. Instead, the landscape had “‘been ruined by greedy fishermen and hunters, and by ignorant people who took over the land where animals once lived.’”

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Image copyright Julie Downing, courtesy of Disney Hyperion

One morning while Lotus was out collecting reeds for her grandfather she spied a rare crane. It’s wide white “wings were edged with black feathers, like lace on a dress”…and “its head was crowned with a red top like a dazzling ruby.” As she watched a gunshot rang out. Unable to alert the hunter by shouting, Lotus banged on her bucket, frightening him away. Lotus rushed toward the wounded bird, picked it up and carefully brought it home to Grandpa.

Grandpa tended to the crane’s injury and fed him rice soup while Lotus stroked the soft head. For two days, Lotus hardly slept as she took care of the crane. On the third day she fell asleep next to the crane, waking when he stirred and nestled her cheek. “Lotus’s heart pounded, and tears sprang to her eyes.” Lotus named the crane Feather. As it grew stronger she gathered food for it, and on the day Feather took his first steps, “Lotus jumped and swirled and hugged Grandpa blissfully.”

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Image copyright Julie Downing, courtesy of Disney Hyperion

Soon Feather was following Lotus everywhere—even to school. After class Lotus would blow her whistle and Feather would come running and dance as Lotus played. The other children joined in, dancing and playing along every day. One night Lotus heard Feather crowing and woke to find that the village was flooded. Poling his boat through the streets, Grandpa shouted, Lotus banged her pail, and Feather crowed to alert the neighbors. “Over three hundred villagers were saved. Feather was the hero.” He became famous, and people wanted to hear his story again and again.

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Image copyright Julie Downing, courtesy of Disney Hyperion

When Spring arrived Feather was still too weak to fly but he looked longingly at the birds migrating north. Lotus was frightened that her friend might want to leave them, but she “knew she would never separate him from his home and family.” One day Feather spread his wings and leaped into the air. Lotus realized that he had healed and knew it was time for him to leave. Grandpa and Lotus took Feather to the lake. Grandpa tossed Feather into the air, but he returned again and again. Grandpa gave Feather to Lotus. Lotus hugged Feather one more time and threw him into the sky.  

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Image copyright Julie Downing, courtesy of Disney Hyperion

Holding back tears, Lotus watched as “Feather flapped his big wings and soared north, disappearing into the horizon.” Lotus and the other children missed Feather. They gathered together listening to Lotus play her whistle, imagining that Feather could hear them. One autumn morning, Lotus heard a familiar crow and rushed outside. There stood Feather with his family. Then Lotus gasped. The sky was filled with hundreds of cranes coming to the lake. Lotus blew her whistle, and the notes, “accompanied by the birds’ singing, echoed far, far away in the golden sky.”

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Image copyright Julie Downing, courtesy of Disney Hyperion

Ji-li-Jiang’s tender story resonates on every page with love and friendship. The relationship revealed in Jiang’s tale exists not only between Lotus and Feather, but between readers and their environment. Beautifully interwoven throughout the plot, the idea of responsibility between friends, to the earth, and to ourselves makes Lotus & Feather a compelling book to read and discuss. Through lyrical passages and detailed storytelling, Jiang develops a deep, emotional bond between Lotus and Feather that readers will respond to. The heartwarming connection between Lotus and her grandfather brings comforting and another level of family commitment to the story.

Julie Downing’s stunning illustrations allow readers to walk, sit, worry, and cheer with Lotus as she finds and cares for Feather. Her sadness is palpable as she walks home from school past a group of classmates playing ball; in the corner of the dark lake, children will find bottles, cans, and other debris floating among the reeds; and Feather makes his debut with a graceful ballet. Readers will love watching the progression of Feather’s healing and Lotus’ reintegration into her circle of friends and will applaud when Feather and his family and friends return to the lake.

Lotus & Feather is a multi-layered story that will captivate readers. It is a must for public and school libraries and would make a beautiful addition to home libraries as well.

Ages 5 – 9

Disney Hyperion, 2016 | ISBN 978-1423127543

Discover more about Ji-li Jiang and her books on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork as well as other books by Julie Downing on her website!

World Wildlife Day Activity

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Endangered Species Word Scramble

Can you find the names of 15 animals in this printable Endangered Species Word Scramble? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

March 3 -World Wildlife Day

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Picture Book Review

About the Holiday  

Sponsored by the United Nations, World Wildlife Day celebrates the many varieties of wild animals and plants that make up our earth. It is also a day to raise awareness of the ways in which conservation of natural resources and sustainable development benefits people and all the world’s species. The theme this year is “The future of wildlife is in our hands.” African and Asian elephants are the main focus of the 2016 global campaigns.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says: “On this World Wildlife Day, I call on all citizens, businesses and governments to play their part in protecting the world’s wild animals and plants.  The actions taken by each of us will determine the fate of the world’s wildlife.  The future of wildlife is in our hands!”

For more information on World Wildlife Day 2016 and to see what events are taking place in cities around the world visit wildlifeday.org

Actual Size

By Steve Jenkins

 

We know wildlife is all around us, but apart from our pets and the occasional mosquito we swat or bumble bee we avoid, we tend to see it from a distance. We watch birds flutter at feeders through a window, we see exotic animals at the zoo, aquarium, or wildlife parks, and point out cows and horses while driving. If asked how big the chickadee or elephant is, we’d say small and huge! But how small? How huge?

What makes Steve Jenkins’ book Actual Size so fascinating is that he shows readers on the page exactly how big or how tiny with scale drawings of each creature. The Atlas Moth on page 1 is so large part of one wing dips into page 2, where you hardly notice the dwarf goby—at a minuscule 1/3 inch long—in the bottom corner. As you turn the page you almost catch your breath to find the enormous 12-inch-wide eye of a giant squid staring back at you.

An ostrich with its egg and the whip-like tongue of the giant anteater are also here. And if you’re at all squeamish about spiders, you might want to avoid pages 12 and 13! The snout of the saltwater crocodile and the Goliath frog are both so long that they require a fold-out page! Kids will love putting their tiny hand against the gorilla’s and their foot on the African elephant’s.

Actual Size features 18 of the world’s well-known and unusual creatures, each described in more detail, including weight, habitat, diet, behavior, defenses, and more, at the end of the book.

Steve Jenkins’ striking collages, created from cut and torn paper, beckon readers to look closer at these awesome creatures.

Ages 4 – 9

Houghton Mifflin Books, 2004 | ISBN 978-0547512914

World Wildlife Day Activity

CPB - Wildlife Day Elephant Print (2)

Hands Down Best Elephant Print

 

A way to make the cutest elephant print ever is right in your hands! With a little paint and paper, you can create a wildlife print that’s as unique as you are. This is a fun activity to do with a child and parent or two siblings. Working with different size hands can make your print more interesting.

Supplies

  • Paper, any color
  • Paint, any color you would like your elephants to be
  • Paint brush
  • Black marker

Directions

In this print your palm creates the body of the elephant, your four fingers create the legs, and your thumb becomes the trunk.

1. Make the right-facing elephant:

  • Paint your left hand. Make sure to fill in all the creases on your palm and fingers.
  • Press your hand onto the left side of the piece of paper

 2. Make the left-facing elephant:

  • Paint your right hand. Make sure to fill in all the creases on your palm and fingers.
  • Place your hand on the right side of the paper so that your thumb touches the end of the thumb on the left hand print. Press your hand onto the right side of the piece of paper

3. You can fill in any thin or open spaces with the paintbrush if you like

4. Let the handprints dry

5. Turn the page so that the four fingers that create the legs of the elephant are facing down.

6. Draw a dot for an eye at the base of the thumb, an ear in the palm, and a tail at the back of the hand.

7.  To make the sun, dip your thumb in yellow paint and press it into the corner of the paper. Make little rays with the edge of the paintbrush.

8. Hang your print with or without a frame.