Flemming Bermann, a software developer in Southampton, England, was frustrated at the lack of good books about climate change and sustainability aimed at children, so he wrote one. Global Warming for Young Minds is intended to be a politically neutral primer on climate change and environmental stewardship for kids between the ages of six and 10. Using simple language, the book explains the atmosphere, greenhouse gases, and how the latter contribute to global warming. It explains potential effects of global warming for animals such as polar bears and insects, and provides information on how to minimize our carbon footprint and help slow the course of global warming. Interspersed throughout the book are games and puzzles meant to build on the ideas presented.
Bermann’s intentions are certainly unassailable and he has good ideas, but that is nearly sunk by the book’s cheap and amateurish design and illustrations. The end result seems ugly, slap-dash and half-hearted. The book design is credited to Kalpart Team, which is a website offering discount clip-art and stock art. Clip-art has its place in the world, but published books are not that place.
In addition to the book’s terrible presentation, its claims of being “politically neutral” are false. Mr. Bermann has said that his book does not state that “global warming is happening and is man-made,” but it most certainly does: The book is called Global Warming for Young Minds. He then explains that global warming is caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and explains how man-made machinery emits those gases into the atmosphere. There’s nothing wrong with saying those things. Why does he feel he needs to hide or apologize for his premise? If I may quibble further, a book that purports to present facts to children should try to get its facts straight. It refers to creepy crawly creatures as insects, but not all of them are. Spiders, for instance, are not insects.
Global Warming for Young Minds is a good idea for a book. It may even be salvageable, but it is in dire need of a good editor, a fact-checker and a new layout by professional designers and illustrators.
(Book published by Eloquent Books, 2010, 44 pages.)
Sara Hart is homeschooling mom of four and owner of Hart Home Daycare in Ottawa, the first daycare in Ontario to be endorsed as Eco-Healthy by the Oregon Environmental Council.