All Around Us

I have to tell you about a children’s book I absolutely love.

All Around Us, written by Xelena Gonzalez, illustrated by Adrianna M. Garcia (Cinco Puntos Press, 2017, winner of the 2018 Skipping Stones Honor Award: Nature and Ecology Books and many more awards!) is ultimately a children’s book about the beauty and power of natural cycles (a key feature of living systems), but it is so much more.  Listen to the first line:

“Grandpa says circles are all around us. We just have to look for them. He points to the rainbow that rises high in the sky after a thundercloud has come. He traces the colorful arc with his hand and says, “Can you see? That’s only half of the circle…”

In some of the most magical illustrations I’ve ever seen, we follow a young granddaughter and her grandfather through a day, planting seeds in the garden, taking a walk around the neighborhood, sitting under a pecan tree.  There are “hidden” cycles too, and cycles that will surprise you.  With her grandfather’s help, the little girl “sees” cycles around her, concluding at the end:  “I am part of the circle too, the part we can see.  Just like a rainbow.”
Don’t miss the book trailer and the interactive workshops the author and illustrator offer to bring the book’s ideas to life.
Happy Reading!
Why is it important to understand cycles?  There are many reasons but here are just a few:
When we pay attention to natural cycles, we discover that they offer sweet rewards: cycles sustain life, circulate resources and provide opportunities for renewal. Farmers know this. After the harvest, autumn and winter bring a time of much-needed dormancy, allowing plants to decay and produce nutrients like nitrogen, calcium, and carbon that make it possible for new crops to grow again in the spring.
When we don’t understand cycles, sometimes our solutions become the problem. When we pave streets and parking lots, we interfere with the water cycle by lessening water absorption and diverting water into storm sewers (more pavement means less water is taken up by plants and less evaporation from those plants to cool its surroundings).  This means less natural cooling from plants and higher overall temperatures. In their strategic plan (2000-2010), Massachusetts Audubon Society identified the “disruption of ecological processes,” such as the hydrologic cycle, nutrient cycles, animal life cycles and other cyclic processes as one of the top five threats to nature.  Closer to home, when we reach for a cup of coffee in the afternoon because we feel tired, we ignore the body’s signal to wind down and prepare for the rest part of the sleep cycle, and so we end up more tired.