Follow the Moon Home is a unique picture book written by environmental advocate Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau, acclaimed children's non-fiction (and fiction) author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Meilo So. A curious book, I sat with Follow the Moon Home and thought about it for quite a while before writing this review. Because I was just wrapping up a week of reviews of non-fiction picture books about animals, I thought maybe Follow the Moon Home was a book about a real group of children who organized the community in an effort to protect hatchling turtles, but reading the backmatter and searching the internet proved this wasn't the case. While fifth graders from ninety-six schools in South Carolina successfully organized to make the loggerhead turtle the state reptile, the specific "Lights Out for Loggerheads" effort in Follow the Moon Home is fictional. Although fictional, Follow the Moon Home is packed with fantastic non-fiction information in the backmatter. Truly, Follow the Moon is a book about community and community action as well as a message to all of us to value the insights and inspirations of our children. As Cousteau writes in a note to parents and teachers, "Too often, adults see kids only as volunteers for environmental projects, as participants rather than seeing them as critical thinkers capable of solving any number of problems." Follow the Moon is a blueprint in story form for kids and adults, gently showing us all how to listen and how to take action and the perfect book for any teacher or school using a project based learning curriculum and seeking to incorporate character education and community participation into everyday learning.
Viv's family moves to town just in time for get to join a summer school class. The second page of Follow the Moon Home is not to be missed by adult readers - teachers or parents - as it shows Viv's teacher with a lesson plan for a class project centering on community action. The story moves at a fast pace and the authors are focused. Running into a classmate on the beach (the pudgy Clementine - thank you Meilo So, for illustrating a girl with a body shape like mine when I was a kid!) Viv learns about loggerhead turtles and the struggles that the hatchlings face in their journey back to the ocean. Soon, the two are sharing their thoughts and ideas with the class and a community project is coming to life!
The authors detail the steps the class takes to educate and bring together the community and gain their support as the story unfolds. Their classroom becomes the Loggerhead Lab and readers see clearly how the kids develop a plan to fix a problem and gather together to make it happen. The school where I am a librarian is a project based learning school where character education and community connections are the foundations of our curriculum. As the librarian, I am constantly asked for books - at all levels - to support this and they are very rare. I am so thrilled to be able to add Follow the Moon, with its great story and invaluable, inspiring back matter to the shelves. Thank you to Philippe Cousteau, Deborah Hopkinson and Meilo So for creating this invaluable book!
Source: Review Copy