The Coming Silent Seasons?
Part Five: Kids Edition

Phoebe the Bee, 
Jenny Bailey
Published by Tales From Mother Earth, book and CD with Seeds, £10.99

Kids Fight Climate Change 
Martin Dorey, RRP £7.99, Bookbuster £6.99
Published by Walker Books

Greta Thunberg,
A board book from Frances Lincoln, £5.99

Review by Tim Barton

Recent evidence has emerged suggesting a 75% reduction in insect life, globally, in the last fifty years. This is extreme and has ramifications for the whole biosphere, not least the main culprit in this ‘insect apocalypse’, we humans. For a current look at the role of bees and other ‘bugs’, adults should read Dave Goulson’s excellent new book Silent Earth.

However, it is our youngest generation that will be worst affected by the tsunami of ecological destruction rolling towards us. How do we address this? How do we make the very youngest aware in a positive manner? How do we give hope?

Three years ago, Greta Thunberg, then 15 years old, began a sit-down strike action outside the Swedish Parliament, calling for radical action on climate change. Whilst opinions about her differ widely, her action triggered a burgeoning awareness across the world, and her media exposure has ensured that, even during the pandemic years, her voice is heard. Many of us had been railing against corporate and state inaction for many years, but without a smidgen of her success. The movement she helped enable, Extinction Rebellion, also gave voice in a public arena most climate activists had never before reached. Regardless of the reservations of the alt-right, she has been an inspiration. Frances Lincoln have been publishing board books in a series, Little People BIG DREAMS, for a few years, aimed at parents to read to young children. Previous bestsellers for Bookbuster included Frida Kahlo and Rosa Parks, and they have David Attenborough in there too.

Also aimed at parents for young readers, Tales From Mother Earth have produced an excellent picture storybook on the impact of urbanisation and agriculture on bee colonies. As Chris Packham says, in a quote on the cover, “As crop pollinators, honey bees are vital for our existence, therefore it is essential we provide them with the right environment to thrive.” Presented via the tale of Phoebe the Bee, this new collective have given us a ‘safe for children’ introduction to this potentially depressing subject. The book comes with a CD and a packet of seeds. The story has an upbeat ending, and it is up to us to ensure the possibility that the real world may have one too. That packet of seeds can be your child’s start on addressing the demise of wildflowers. Packham again: “Please bee-kind”!

Clearly, the next stage, as those kids get older, is more active and, frankly, ‘political’ action. And Martin Dorey’s Kids Fight Climate Change is a great opening salvo in that battle. The book presents ‘60 missions to help save our planet’ and has copious fun colour illustrations by Tim Wesson. Each mission is presented under the hashtag #2minutesuperhero, each mission being, therefore, quick and achievable. This is not taking you to your town hall until the last missions, mostly it is home and garden, school and bicycles. But, it ends on writing to your representatives, boycotting goods from the Amazon areas, becoming an activist… Dorey’s rallying cry of “Calling All Superheroes” is also used for companion volume Kids Fight Plastic.

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