Monday, April 2, 2012

A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterfiles by Caroline Arnold

 A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife
by Caroline Arnold; Illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Charlesbridge. 2012
ISBN: 9781580892667
(Grades K -5)
This reviewer received a copy of the book from the illustrator.

Happy April, the month that is full of new beginnings. This is the month when we really notice the Earth awaking from her long winter sleep. Buds swell on the trees, grass turns green, birds return, and days continue to get longer.  Here in Maine we refer to this time of year as Mud Season. As peoples attention turns towards the outdoors, we are reminded that April is also when we celebrate Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 27)  An important time to teach students why it is important to care for our earth. 

In A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, prolific science writer Caroline Arnold explains how climate change affects wildlife.  The book’s design and language makes it appealing to elementary school readers, grades 1-5. The author does a great job explaining some complicated ideas. For example, the difference between climate and weather, “climate is what you expect [for example, a wet spring) and weather is what you get (for example, a thunderstorm). 

Many animals are listed: Foxes, Edith's Checkerspot Butterfly, Squirrels and Mice, Polar Bears, Walruses, Penguins, Krill, Yellow-Bellied Marmot, Coral Reefs, Fish, and Loggerhead Turtles. Carefully, Arnold explains the damaging impact Global Warming is having on their existence. Scientists have said that with warmer temperatures animals and insects are expanding their range. We see that with the Red Fox whose habitat is that of forests and brushland are moving farther north, into the once treeless Arctic where trees and brush now grow. It may seem okay, but what about the small Arctic fox who thrive only in some of the coldest places on Earth? They must now compete with the Red fox for available food.  We all have heard how the warming trend is melting the polar ice caps, which is having a devastating affect on Polar Bears. The other animal that is affected are walruses. The walruses use the sea ice “as a resting platform, pulling themselves up with their long tusks. Pups wait on the ice while their mothers dive for food. As more sea ice melts, these “islands” become fewer and father from shore, and there are no platforms in shallow water for mother and their pups. The pups often become separated from their mothers. They cannot survive on their own.” Arnold doesn’t shield her audience from the harsh reality. She successfully presents this complex information in words they can understand without being too depressing.

Partnering with Arnold is Maine artist, Jamie Hogan who uses charcoal pencil and pastel on sanded paper with elements of collage, paper, and tags creating illustrations that are rich in color and well researched. Her beautiful drawings fill every inch of the two-page spreads and mirrors Arnold’s text.  At first I wondered why Arnold didn’t use actual photos, but now I believe Hogan’s illustrations keep the book from becoming too upsetting for its target audience.  Plus, she is a gifted artist.  Her animals, insects, and reptiles seem to be looking right at readers, as if encouraging (challenging) us to pay attention and do what we can to stop Global Warming.  Because we do not have permission from publishers to show more than just the book jacket, go here to see the inside pages:

The book includes a glossary, along with a listing of web sites and books for further reading.

This book is a fine addition for all libraries. Include it in a variety of displays , especially for Earth Day, Arbor Day, Global Warming, Gardening, or Endangered Animals.  


  1. Thanks so much for the great review of A Warmer World! I envy your true Eastern spring with forsythia, pussywillows, spring peepers, and all the other signs that winter is over and warm weather is on its way. Here in CA we have spring too, but it is much more subtle. I think Jamie Hogan's illustrations are terrific. You are right, they are perfect for the intended audience.

  2. Thanks for this review! I am honored to share the pages with Caroline Arnold and bring this topic to young readers.