Earth Day 2022: Five books you must read on this International Mother Earth Day

Earth Day 2022: If you are a parent looking for some cool books to discuss this topic with your child, without boring them to death or filling their minds with fear, check out our list

On 22 April 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating this day as International Mother Earth Day. The annual observance is meant to acknowledge “the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”. If you are a parent looking for some cool books to discuss this topic with your child, without boring them to death or filling their minds with fear, check out our list of book recommendations. These books are warm, funny, intelligent, and informative.

Kitten Trouble (Duckbill Books, 2021)

Written by Bijal Vachharajani, this is a lovely book about a girl named Sanika who is not particularly fond of animals. In fact, she despises them. This is mostly because of fear. One day, her mother brings home an abandoned orange kitten with green eyes. Instead of being excited to give her a home, Sanika wants her parents to take the kitten away. “Why is the kitten growling at me?” she asks, when the furball is merely purring to show her happiness.

Read this book to find out how the equation between them changes one stormy night. “The wind howled like a werewolf. The lightning gleamed like a vampire’s skin. The thunder rumbled like a zombie’s stomach,” notes Vachharajani, who is adept at writing humour. Look out for Rajiv Eipe’s delightful illustrations. The eyes in particular — human and feline — will draw you into every shade of emotion that the story touches upon. They speak volumes.

Vatsala Loves Snakes (Karadi Tales, 2021)

This book has been written by two authors — Arthy Muthanna Singh and Mamta Nainy. It revolves around a girl called Vatsala whose love for snakes gets her mother quite worried. She wonders why her daughter cannot be like other children and maybe get a kitten instead. Vatsala’s friend Neeraj too finds it difficult to wrap his head around the fact that she is obsessed with creatures that he wants to be far away from as he finds them creepy and yucky.

Vatsala longs for these people to understand why she likes to see them, hold them, read up on them, and share trivia about them. She gets a golden opportunity to do this when her school announces a picnic to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. Divya George’s illustrations will show you how her entire face lights up when spots a python gliding lazily over a huge rock, with “its tongue flicking in and out of its mouth”. During this trip, Vatsala also meets Ananya, a herpetologist who is an expert on snakes. Can you guess what happens?

Clock in the Jungle (Talking Cub, 2021)

This is an exquisite book with illustrations that will make you drop everything and just keep looking. Sneha Uplekar brings alive the jungle through her rich visual imagination, complementing Ketki Pandit’s words that explore biodiversity in the Western Ghats. Pick up this book to meet vine snakes, pangolins, hornbills, monkeys, deer, fireflies, owls and frogs.

Earth Day 2022 Five books you must read on this International Mother Earth Day

Pandit opens the book with a simple question: “Who sets an alarm/ early morning for the birds?/ Maybe there’s a clock/ hiding deep in the jungle?” At one level, this book could be used to teach children how to tell the time. At another level, it sets out to explore the sense of order and rhythm that pervades all of nature without any deadlines, notifications, and to-do lists. It also has a quieter philosophical subtext, wondering if time is a human construct.

The Tree Boy (Pickle Yolk Books, 2018)

Written by Srividhya Venkat, this book is equal parts bizarre and thought-provoking. It takes the commonplace idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and gives it an unusual twist. Sid, who is a boy, suddenly discovers that he has turned into a tree. Can you imagine all the experiences that he might go through as a tree? Read the book to find out for yourself.

Earth Day 2022 Five books you must read on this International Mother Earth Day

Nayantara Surendranath’s illustrations are magical. They work well because they create an atmosphere, instead of simply providing visual equivalents to the author’s words. She is able to conjure up the many worlds that live inside a tree, on a tree, around a tree, beneath a tree. Creatures of myriad kinds find their home in this ecosystem, and now Sid is part of them.

Tiger, Tiger, Where Are You? (Pratham Books, 2019)

This book has been written by Mujahid Khan, who is also part of the story that he is telling. As a tiger researcher at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, which is part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bengaluru, he reveals how his team members — including Uma Ramakrishnan, Anubhab Khan and Kaushal Patel — track tigers through pugmarks, claw marks, tiger hair and tiger poop. These people are part of the Ranthambore Tiger Project.

Without any technical jargon, this book will take you into a world where studying an endangered species is a lot like detective work. The book is structured as a conversation between the tiger, and the person in search of the tiger. They seem to play hide and seek. The tiger drops hints, and teases the researcher. Manjari Chakravarti’s illustrations add to the fun.

The author is a writer, journalist, commentator, and book reviewer. Views expressed are personal.


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