Bondi and Poppy Help Heal the Planet, by Judith A. Proffer/Illustrated by Yoko Matsuoka, (Apr. 2023, Juju Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781088113431
This sweet rhyming story stars two friends: Bondi, an Australian koala and Poppy, a California bear, who come together to raise awareness about the havoc wreaked by wildfires on their homes and how climate change plays a part in it. The two friends meet in Hawaii – the middle ground between their homes – where they spend time together and think of ways to help keep their homes – our home, Earth – safe. Kids will love the friendly-faced animals, colorful art, and playful rhyme. By outlining ways that everyone can pitch in and take responsibility for helping the environment – creating a family plan,; reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost; use less water and paper, and rely less on gasoline and more on our own bodies to get around – Proffer involves the whole family and empowers everyone from adults to kids. Initially published in time for Earth Day, Bondi and Poppy share a message worth repeating as Poppy’s part of the world heads into summer, when we rely on our air conditioners and prefer less walking over air-conditioned vehicles. A cute additional purchase for collections.
Wombat, the Reluctant Hero, by Christian Trimmer/Illustrated by Rachel Gyan, (March 2023, Roaring Brook Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250788573
Inspired by the real-life events wrought by the devastating Australian wildfires in 2019 and 2020, Wombat the Reluctant Hero is all about being a good – if sweetly curmudgeonly – friend. Wombat likes her home and her appearance organized and just so, but she can’t say that about her neighbors, who look all out of sorts. Wombat notices that their watering hole is running a little low, so she pulls on her gardening gear and digs down until she hits water, reluctantly accepting their thanks. When Koala shows up at her door in a panic one night, she discovers that the forest is on fire, and quickly moves to gather her neighbors into her fireproof burrow, giving them food and water as they ride out the fire. When they emerge from the burrow, they work together to rebuild their home. Gyan’s digital artwork is colorful and reflects her moods through facial expression and clothing; going from dusky rose coveralls at the beginning to warm tangerine coveralls to show her enthusiasm and hope. Trimmer’s storytelling gives readers some insight into Australia’s problems in 2019 and 2020, and notes from the author and illustrator provide deeper context.
A good way of explaining world events to younger children while also delivering messages of community and empathy. An excellent choice for collections.