Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Learning About Water

    Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!
       Happy Holidays everyone! See you in 2018!

         I've spoken about working in a used bookstore before. It is a joy to meet so many people who love books and to discover books I hadn't "met" before. One day I had a lovely surprise, a former parent of two students at the school where I taught came in. It was a nice visit and I learned about her daughters, all grown up with careers now. This parent mentioned that one daughter, now Melissa Reyes, had written a picture book. This is that book.
        The story is told in both English and Spanish, the strong voice of Sausal Creek, a waterway in Oakland, California, Melissa shares the story of its importance to the Ohlone tribe, how it was used and cared for. Then came the Spanish searching for gold, more who clogged the creek with waste, who built the town around it, the history to today, and no matter the damage, the creek "still flowed".  Now, today, a group is working hard to restore Sausal Creek to its natural beauty. They're doing things like nurturing seeds from the plants that grew there long ago and caring for the trout that still swim there. In soft watercolors, Robert Trujillo illustrates this history with creative double-pages, sometimes vertical, always focusing the view of this important creek "still flowing". Melissa adds more information in the back matter, "A Brief History of Sausal Creek". Translation is done by Cinthya Muñoz.

        Although about a specific place, this wonderful book can be used to inspire other research projects in one's own geographical place. Learning about one's environment and how to keep it safe is something that will benefit everyone. I am reminded of the book Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Claudia McGehee, another story of a waterway important to the area. And I am so glad that this serendipitous meeting meant I had the pleasure of reading I Am Causal Creek. It's also wonderful that it is bilingual, for many others to enjoy, too. 

         "Little water, a sweet, tender and strong song." This is one example, in English, of this beautiful book, also in Spanish and Nahuat, a tri-lingual ode to a drop of water. It is not deemed non-fiction by the library, yet it shows in splashing, swirling, beautifully-colored illustrations by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara about the water cycle, pages that demand further research and learning. For example, when showing water moving up into the clouds, Jorge Tetl Argueta writes so poetically: "I am a water bird./Drop by drop/I return singing to our Mother Earth./I am Little Water./I am life." Also, like I Am Sausal Creek, the text in several languages makes it available for many others to enjoy.


  1. I like how you connected both books together! I've heard a bit about the Argueta book, I'll keep my eyes open for it!

    1. Thanks, Michele. I really enjoyed both, and have other water books in the past that I've loved, too. It's an important topic to learn about, be aware of.


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