Experiencing The Environment
I've been thinking about Is Your Story An Experience at Rock Your Writing for...I don't know...a while now. Days, anyway. The essay author compares writing to game design. "When you’re designing a game," she says, "you need to think about the experience you want the player to have." Writers could be thinking about that in terms of the books they're writing, about creating "elements that will hopefully contribute to the experience."
This whole question of experience can apply to environmental books for children, too, both the writing of them and the reading. Writers who are able to create a natural world in their books are able to provide child readers with an experience that can end up being more transforming than a text that was created to instruct. Last week's gardening books are examples of books that provide experience. This week's books definitely are, too.
All Experience, All The Time
Out on the Prairie by Donna M. Bateman with illustrations by Susan Swan is actually a counting book. But what's being counted are prairie creatures.
"Out on the prairie where the yucca grows toward heaven,
Lived a mother howdy owl and her little checks Seven.
"Nod!" said the mother. "We nod," said the Seven.
So they nodded in the twilight where the yucca grows toward heaven."
And there are the howdy owls embedded in a gold, brown, and pale blue scene spread over two pages. Out on the Prairie provides readers with a prairie experience.
With very little text, Under GROUND by Denise Fleming brings readers...under ground. Readers see parts of a human child occasionally, so we know we, too, are part of the world that exists just above the under ground part. But there is no main character here of any kind, unless you want to get metaphorical and say the world being experienced is a character.
Again we're talking experience, all experience.
Both these books have end material identifying animals for adults who need that sort of thing.