Moonbird by Phillip Hoose

12510885The reader soars on the wind with this red knot of the subspecies rufa, flying 9000 miles every fall and spring. The author has written the story in such a way that the reader lives this shorebird character’s journey, and therefore comes to care deeply that its migration stopover sites are being trashed and dug up and polluted and degraded.

Hoose conveys to the reader how “each species belongs to a complicated web of energy” and that together these webbed ecosystems “connect everything from microorganisms to mighty trees.” The current wave of species extinction is far from natural, we learn from this author. It is caused by a single species, by our habits of consumption and alteration of nature, wiping out thousands of species. Hoose asks, if a particular species, like rufa, is removed, could a whole ecosystem unravel?

Scientists call this banded red knot, Moonbird, because its life journeying has totaled a minimum of the distance to the moon and halfway back. The reader can feel Moonbird’s urgency to migrate, can marvels at its ability to transform its body every year, and can grieve and exhilarate over the beautiful bird’s trials and successes. Most of all, the reader of this book becomes connected in consciousness as well as in eco-system with the great avian athlete/ survivor. At the end of the book, Hoose holds out hope with vignettes of young people changing the story and saving the Moonbird’s stopover sites.

New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012


Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodsen

Each Kindness is a realist’s picture book whose lack of happy ending encourages reflection. The illustrations by E.B Lewis perfectly accompany Woodson’s stark story of how Chloe treats the new girl Maya with a mean disdain. Instead of naming it bullying or focusing on blame, Woodson draws our attention to a young perpetrator’s ripples of sorrowful regret for opportunities she missed. Her teacher Ms Albert has the children drop a stone into a bowl of water to demonstrate the rippling effect of kindness. Since the powerful ritual comes after Maya has moved away, the change it produces in Chloe cannot be experienced by Maya, but will perhaps, ripple out to another new girl, another time.13588082

One illustration is particularly moving, a spread of four children’s faces reflected in the bowl of water, with the kindness stone at the center. In this unique picture book, young Chloe looks deeply into herself and comes to an awareness that is the precursor to genuine change.

New York: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2012


Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin

art by Ana Maria Vasquez available from

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She has many names, the woman who appeared on the hill in Tepeyac in 1531, and spoke in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. At that same site, she was worshipped as Tonantzin, Venerable Mother, by the much earlier ancestors of the indigenous man to whom she appeared. Among other names, the Virgin of Guadalupe is also lovingly called La Morena, Empress of the Americas, Queen of Mexico, and Our Lady of Tepeyac.

Some say that, as a virgin, a woman belonging only to herself, La Morena reflects the blessing of moonlight to women everywhere. Some say that this Goddess Tonantzin, who painted her self-portrait on Juan Diego’s cloak, is the Matron Saint of Artists. Many attest that she can help anyone, especially those who have been unable to find help anywhere else.

For the sake of the world, call on her magnificent compassion today on her feast day. Call on her as the great alignment comes to completion. Ask her help to create a planetary shift, ask her to help humanity jump the synapse from here — our current breakdowns, to there — our future of amazing possibilities.

A Short History of Tonantzin: