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April in PEPELT is Earth month and Sandie shared the picturebook ‘Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy‘ by Tara Dairman and Archana Sreenivasan (G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 2020). She was joined by Gail Ellis. Together they talk of the potential this picturebook has for the primary English classroom.

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To continue our environmental theme this month in celebration of Earth Day on 22 April, Gail has chosen the picturebook, The Tin Forest by Helen Ward, illustrated by Wayne Anderson and published by Templar Books in 2001. The Earth Day theme for 2022 is Invest In Our Planet. What Will You Do? The Tin Forest won the British National Art Library Award in 2001 and is described as a parable. An old man lives in a vast, grey wasteland of ‘other people’s rubbish and bad weather’. Every day he tidies away the rubbish, ‘sifting and sorting, burning and burying’ and every night he dreams of living in a jungle full of wild forest animals. A discarded light bulb gives the old man an idea. He transforms it into a tin flower with leaves bolted onto stems and gradually he recycles all the rubbish into a forest of tin trees and creatures. One day a bird arrives and the old man sprinkles crumbs from his sandwiches onto the ground for the bird to eat but it flies off leaving the old man once again in silence. However, the next morning he wakes to the sound of birdsong. The bird had returned with its mate, and they drop seeds from their beaks and green shoots begin to grow. Gradually a natural forest emerges amongst the forest made of tin.

The Tin Forest is a story of hope, renewal, imagination and creativity and the illustrations and colours represent the contrast between sadness and hope alternating between grey and drab shades (even the font is in grey) and bright colours.

Children can explore themes such as loneliness, empathy and caring for the environment. They could investigate what is happening to all our waste and how it could it be used to create something beautiful.

So how will you encourage your pupils to invest in our planet this year?


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Tatia continues Earth month by discussing the use of picturebooks with an environmental focus in primary English teacher education. Rather than discussing a specific picturebook, Tatia lists some of the opportunities informative eco-themed picturebooks, such as the series by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by David Litchfield: Mars!, Moon!, Sun!, Earth!, Ocean! and Our Planet!, can offer student teachers.

Informative eco-themed picturebooks…

1) provide a natural stepping stone for student teachers to recognise possible cross-curricular links to subjects such as geography, science and biology thus supporting a CLIL approach;

2) offer the possibility to integrate aspects of intercultural citizenship education when discovering our planet;

3) encourage student teachers to think beyond the classroom by creating, for example, small school-based ‘green’- initiatives;

4) deliver factual information in a creative bite-size format thus stimulating student teachers to rethink how to share such information;

5) inspire student teachers and children to interpret information and connect it to their context and experiences.

How have you used eco-themed picturebooks with your student teachers and/or children? Let us know – thanks Tatia Gruenbaum

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Anneta introduced this picturebook to several groups of students [from 6 to 8 and from 10 to 13 years old]. She bravely admitted that she had underestimated its power and so she will be using it again next year and planning a whole project around it.

The last post from PEPELT in April 2022, a month where we share picturebooks with eco-themes to celebrate Earth Day, is from Anneta Sadowska. Anneta’s picturebook is ‘There’s a Rang-Tan in my bedroom’ written by James Sellick and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Wren & Rook Books, 2019).

When a little girl discovers a mischievous orangutan on the loose in her bedroom, she can’t understand why it keeps shouting OOO! at her shampoo and her chocolate. But when Rang-tan explains that there are humans running wild in her rainforest, burning down trees so they can grow palm oil to put in products, the little girl knows what she has to do: help save the orangutans!

Published in collaboration with Greenpeace and based on their film that became a viral sensation, ‘There’s a Rang-tan in My Bedroom’ includes information about orangutans and palm oil plus exciting ideas about how young readers can make a difference.

As you can see from Anneta’s film her children in Poland didn’t know anything about orangutans or palm oil, but now they do, and they want to help stop the mass destruction of the orangutans’ jungle home by writing letters and telling their families about palm oil.

A couple of films and resources Anneta mentions in her chat:
  • The Green Peace animated film narrated by Emma Thompson
  • A film of children in the UK talking about orangutans and how they want manufacturers to stop using palm oil.
  • A film about Peanut a baby orangutan, who hasn’t learned to climb as he was separated from his mother at too young an age.
  • Hatchett schools resources – this is where Anneta found her letter template: