Mother Earth’s Lullaby – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Mother Earth’s Lullaby – A Song for Endangered Animals

Written by: Terry Pierce

Illustrated by: Carol  Heyer

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers, September 2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: endangered species, lullaby, baby animals


When Mother Earth bids goodnight,
she casts her shafts of silver light.

She says, “Goodnight, my precious ones.”
Nature’s song has just begun.


Mother Earth’s Lullaby is a gentle bedtime call to some of the world’s most endangered animals. Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition create a quiet moment for children burrowing down in their own beds for the night, imparting a sense that even the most endangered animals feel safe at this peaceful time of day. In successive spreads, a baby giant panda, yellow-footed rock wallaby, California condor, Ariel toucan, American red wolf, Sumatran tiger, polar bear, Javan rhinoceros, Vaquita dolphin, Northern spotted owl, Hawaiian goose, and Key deer are snuggled to sleep by attentive parents in their dens and nests under the moon and stars. (Publisher)

Why I like this book:

Catchy rhyming pairs introduce each animal baby as it is getting ready for bed with simply lyrical language and activity that all young children will relate to. Some animals will be familiar and some won’t – a great balance, and back matter can be delved into for more information. 

Tiger kits rumble-purr,
tucked against their mother’s fur.

Despite their endangered status, all these animals are presented feeling safe with their parents close by, which will be reassuring to young readers as you explore the implications of “endangered” with them.

The illustrations cover the full double-spread and are in deep, rich tones evoking night approaching.


Brief descriptions of each animal appear in the back of the book with a thumbnail illustration.

For the most updated information about endangered species visit- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

First School has a terrific list of pre-school endangered animals activities and crafts.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.


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An A to Zed of the USA by a European Nomad – M, N & O


I know this shouldn’t really count, but y’all need to know how many times I have been out with friends at dusk and awn in Maine, Colorado, Vermont, Washington in remote moose-friendly sites and I STILL haven’t seen one. State biologists estimate the Maine moose population to be around 75,000. Do they go into hiding when this Brit arrives? If anyone can promise me a guaranteed moose-sighting, I will be on the next plane. I have seen reindeer in Lapland, but I have to see one of these iconic majestic beasts before I die.

Public Domain

National Parks

It is way up there on my bucket list, the plan to visit all of America’s national parks. Since 1872 the United States National Park System has grown from a single, public reservation called Yellowstone National Park to embrace over 450 natural, historical, recreational, and cultural areas. This includes battlefields like Gettysburg or one of the newest sites, and one I have of course visited because it is in Manhattan, is the Stonewall National Monument in New York, which memorializes the struggles that the lgbtqia community has faced over the years, along with one of its major victories. 

In 2016, we celebrated the centenary of the NPS. If I had to pick one thing that I feel Americans can legitimately be proud of and shout about from the rooftops, it is the NPS. The fundamental purpose of the NPS “is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” This mission is unlike that of any other federal agency: They serve as keepers of the nation’s cultural memory. 

I watched the amazing Ken Burns series about the founding of the NBS and both Mather and John Muir have become heroes of mine. Muir is self-described as, He once described himself more humorously, and perhaps most accurately, as, a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc. !!!!” How’s that for a title? Perhaps his greatest legacy is not even wilderness preservation or national parks as such, but his teaching us the essential characteristic of the science of ecology, the inter-relatedness of all living things. He summed it up nicely: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

So far I have visited: Acadia, Everglades, Joshua Tree, North Cascades, Redwood, Rocky Mountain and Shenandoah. Many more to go! With all the current environmental concerns we have, I agree with author Raymond Barnett, who argues, “If the looming catastrophe of climate change is to be resolved, Muir’s two legacies – Earth Wisdom and the environmental movement – must both play key roles.”

The Redwoods

The Everglades

Oregon Trail

I discovered the Oregon Trail perchance this summer! While cat-sitting in Denver I hiked many miles along the Southern Platte River enjoying water holes and fabulous bird life and the very outdoor population of Denverites cycling along these well-kept urban river trials. Then when I moved up to Fort Collins for a week I was able to borrow my friend’s old Subaru for a spontaneous mini road trip to discover some states I hadn’t yet visited. My destinations were somewhat time-restricted and a little random. First stop, Casper, WY. I arrived early in the day due to almost car-less highways (what a difference to my east-coast road trips!) Looming black clouds over the distant hills made me opt for a river hike that afternoon and lo and behold I discovered I was back on the Platte, its Northern banks, and this trail led me to Casper’s summer fete full of cowboy hats, beer, banjos and family. I met far fewer cyclists and far more fisherman on this hike, and made it back to my Air b n b just before the clouds exploded but with a desire to hike those menacing hills I had seen in the distance.

North Platter River, Casper, WY

Red Buttes

At Red Buttes, the North Platte River narrows, swings to the south and runs between thick, sandstone beds of a deep, brick red. Here, I later read that westbound travelers on the Oregon Trail left the Platte and struck out southwest for the Sweetwater River and the Continental Divide. But before the Europeans arrived, this dramatic location was already a crossroads for cultures. The Buttes stood as a western boundary of Lakota Sioux power and an eastern boundary of Shoshone power.

View along the trail up Scotts Bluff

The next day, I pointed my car eastward to the Black Hills through more torrential rain, which fortuitously let up to allow me a dry if cloudy visit of the famous Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Scouring my maps over a beer that night in a tiny local diner, I felt like Scotts Bluff rang some bells, so this national monument could be my next stop. Driving through southern Nebraska gave me my first taste of endless prairie landscapes, and how happy those pioneers must have been to see some hills in Wyoming and eventually the Rockies in Colorado. Of course I climbed and didn’t drive up the towering 800 feet rocky outcrop above the North Platte River (wow, I am back on the river again!) In stark contrast to the flatness around, Scotts Bluff has served as a lookout and landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern travelers. As a European I confess my knowledge of western expansion was limited to Laura Ingalls Wilder and what I had read about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. So, I guess what surprised me most in the small but super informative museum was to learn about the Mormons progress (expulsion) west and the “Mormon Trail”. And now that I had landed for the third time unintentionally three on the Platte River, I want to intentionally explore it at the Oregon Trail more.


Wikimedia – Platte River

Platte Etymology – French (“flat river”) and Otoe (“flat water”)

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Polar Bear Island – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Polar Bear Island

Written by: Lindsay Bonilla

Illustrated by: Cinta Villalobos

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books, October 2018

Ages: 3-5

Themes: polar bears, immigration, inclusion, embracing difference, xenophobia, penguins



POLAR BEAR ISLAND was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.

But Kirby waddled where the wind blew, and today she was floating toward paradise.


When Kirby, a fun-loving penguin, arrives on Polar Bear Island, she shakes things up—much to the dismay of Parker, the mayor. Will Parker learn to see how great it is to make new friends? Or will he chase Kirby away . . . forever?  
“Welcome to Polar Bear Island. NO OTHERS ALLOWED!” Parker is the mayor of this peaceful, predictable island, and he wants to keep it just the way it is. But Kirby, a penguin, thinks the place is paradise, and she wants to stay. Parker says no, but the other polar bears love Kirby —and soon they’re begging Parker to let Kirby (and her family) move in. Will Parker agree . . . and make the island fun for EVERYONE? (Publisher)

Why I like this book:

Beyond a fun arctic tale, this is obviously a story about embracing change and differences especially when that comes in the form of people who look and act differently to you who want to join your community. This is achieved through humor as Kirby has so much to offer her new community and the vast majority are curious and not crabby like the mayor. I mean who wouldn’t be curious about Flipper Slippers kept feet warm but could reverse between skates and snowshoes? 

One of the fears of welcoming migrants is that this open the floodgates to hoards of relatives, especially in isolated communities like an island. So, of course Parker does invite some family members for a visit. But they turn out to be as fun as she is. It often takes a small or large calamity to see what an assets new immigrants in a town can be, and grouchy Parker’s accident paves the way for a change of heart. 

Pre-K and K children will enjoy the colorful setting, characters and message to include new kids into their midst. 

It is also a great mentor text for writers. Check out the humor, perfect page turns, pacing, surprises, and ending.

End papers – a teaser maybe?

I feel I do need to point out that you should probably explain (again) to your students that polar bears live near the north pole and penguins live near the south, so normally would not get to intermingle. 😉


Maria Marshall did a great PPBF review on this last month.

Here is a great interview with the author over on the GROG blog.

Sterling has an 8-page activity kit on their website website

Pair this book with the following picture books that teach children to include others:

  • Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
  • I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien
  • All The World by Liz Garten Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
  • All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman 
  • The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
  • Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann

Read some of these stories in class then have groups create inclusion posters to welcome newcomers into their classroom.

This post is part of a series by authors and children’s literature bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.


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