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Nature Books for Kids

One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
By Rochelle Strauss/Illustrated by Rosemary Woods
Kids Can Press, 32 pages, $17.95 (ages 8 and up)

The earth’s surface is nearly 70 percent water, so why do we need to conserve what we use? Rochelle Strauss tells us the answer in this elegant introduction to the world’s most vital natural resource. All water is part of one global well, and the living things that rely on it are interconnected; indeed, writes Strauss, “the water you drank today may have rained down on the Amazon rainforest five years ago.” Rosemary Woods’s rainbow-bold acrylic illustrations underscore the varied ways water sustains life. A savanna where zebras romp melds into a pond filled with flamingos, and an orchard dotted with red fruit blends with a beach where seals play. On another page a girl waters a lush garden while a farmer tends to a row of plump lettuce. One Well also highlights a glaring disparity: “While the amount of water on Earth is always the same, the distribution of water across the world isn’t . . . nearly one-fifth of the world’s population does not have access to enough water.”  The author’s water factoids and water-saving tips are apt to quench any reader’s thirst.

Face to Face With Grizzlies
By Joel Sartore
National Geographic Society, 32 pages, $16.95 (ages 6–9)

In Face to Face With Grizzlies, award-winning photographer and regular Audubon contributor Joel Sartore gets up close and personal with the fur and fangs of one of North America’s largest land mammals: the brown bear. Also called the grizzly (some bears’ fur is light-tipped, giving it a “grizzled” appearance), the hulking animals are a threatened species in the lower 48 states, where they exist mainly in and around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. After describing basic aspects of grizzly lifestyle, such as hibernation and an omnivorous appetite, Sartore hits on his main theme: “Today, even the mountains have become a tough place for a bear to make a living…People have settled in nearly every area imaginable, leaving very few places for bears to feed.” Sartore offers various suggestions and resources to help save and learn more about grizzlies, and his vivid photographs offer further insight into the bear’s daily routines: Two young bears play-fighting in a stream may seem a little vicious, what with their gaping jaws and splayed claws, but a mother nursing a cub reveals a softer side in Sartore’s compassionate and compelling book.—Julie Leibach
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