Global Warming, by Seymour Simon, for non-fiction Monday

I am a rather ardent environmentalist, busily bringing home other people's discarded recyclables etc. And rising sea levels are something I worry about in my professional life--many significant archaeological sites are on the coast, and are under threat. Not to mention the huge human cost.

I've told my children the story of Global Warming as I see it...but still I welcomed a new picture book on the subject, that I hoped would interest them, and educate them further-- Global Warming, by Seymour Simon (Harper Collins, 2010, for ages 5-9 with full-color photographs).

This is a very handsome book--it's something of a coffee table book for children, in that it has lots of large full page pictures, and none of the sidebars and little fact boxes that appear in so much non-fiction for the young. And, as far as the main points go, I thought it a fine introduction to the causes and effects of global warming.

I was in full agreement with Simon's points, which touch on such topics as the retreat of the glaciers, the melting of the polar ice, the risks of flooding, etc., but I had a hard time with his prose style, which seemed a bit stiff. Of the polar bears, for instance, Simon writes: "If the ice melts, their food supply will be cut off and this will impact their survival" (page 15); I myself think "impact" should be used this way only in bureaucratic writing (I use it all the time at work), and that in a kid's book, the bears should simply be allowed to "go hungry," or possibly even "starve to death."

And I know that the effects of human actions on global warming are still hotly debated, so I don't expect Simon to make every sentence a statement of fact, but there was some uncertainty where none was needed. Simon, for instance, writes "Atmospheric warming can cause a rise in ocean temperatures and place coral reefs in jeopardy" (page 20). I don't think, myself, that that "can" is necessary.

So although I applaud the existence of this book, with its helpful list of "things we can do" at the end, it's not all I had hoped it would be. Still, I think it would be a good one for parent and child to read together, with the parent explaining and elaborating, and making clear the connections between the text and the (mostly caption-less) photographs.

Other reviews at Eco-Libris and A Patchwork of Books

(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)

The Non-Fiction Monday round-up is at Check It Out today!


  1. Thank you for your honest review of the book. Compared to some of the other reviews, I read you have an interesting take that I am interested to hear more about. I am a college undergraduate and I am currently writing a paper on Global Warming- Seymour Simon and two other books on the topic of climate change to see how these issues are presented to children in literature. Would it be possible to interview you by e-mail for my research?


  2. Sure--my email is charlotteslibrary at gmail dot com.

  3. In celebration of Seymour Simon's birthday he is giving away an autographed copy of his new book Tropical Rainforests at my blog.



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