The rise of sea levels and global temperatures along with shrinking glaciers and extreme weather events has made it impossible to deny climate change. As attempts to reduce our carbon footprint gain traction, the idea of responsible or mindful travel is catching on. Put simply, it’s travelling with an awareness of how our actions and decisions impact the world around us, and includes exercising care in the form of sustainable practices, not littering, and respecting local flora and fauna.
In her new book, What’s in Flora’s Shoebox?, Sarah Jane Conklin explains this concept through the story of Flora and her father, an environmental scientist. The two explore the world and its jungles, mountains, fjords, caves, deserts, and oceans – all without leaving a trace.
Flora stores the memories of the beauty she encounters by writing small notes that she keeps in her shoebox. Nature’s treasures are not hers to collect as trophies. With her conscience as her guide, she travels gently and takes care to plant trees, compost food, and reduce garbage wherever she goes:
All nature’s treasures that she’s seen
Are left where they belong
For taking them as souvenirs
To Flora would be wrong.
Flora teaches young readers that humans must balance their desire to explore the planet with respecting all its gifts and taking care of all forms of life.
Conklin’s rhyming prose – best read aloud – creates a soothing effect that is accentuated by Venus Angelica’s stunning artwork. Angelica’s illustrations are bright and warm – the burnt orange, mustard yellow, and jade green palette brings out the beauty of the story’s message in all its tenderness.
Some of the vocabulary may be a little difficult for the intended age range, but then, reading is a wonderful way to learn new words.
With its topical message of conscious travel and caring for the planet, What’s in Flora’s Shoebox? will surely appeal to both kids and their parents.