Sustainability Book Review: Music for Tigers

As a reoccurring feature on the Sustainability Roundtable blog, we will post reviews of books related to sustainability.  Interested in submitting your own review to the blog? Contact August at aolundsmith -at-

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Review: Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

Reviewed by Angele DeNeve, Assistant Manager Queens Library at Peninsula

Spoiler Alert: This review talks about the ending of Music for Tigers.

How could logging, mining and conservation possibly be connected to music and tigers? Luisa, a 12- year-old musician from Canada, is sent across the world to spend time with her uncle in the Tasmanian Rainforest. The land belonged to her ancestors and, unbeknownst to her, is being taken over to create easier access for logging and mining of its natural resources. 

Luisa is disconnected from nature and completely unaware of the human effect on the Tasmanian Rainforest. Upon arrival, her only concern is finding time to practice for her upcoming audition for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. However, after spending time in the rainforest, getting to know her family’s history and meeting indigenous people of the area, Luisa’s focus begins to shift to the injustice of the loss of her family’s land to mining industries and the damage the mining is doing to the rainforest and its inhabitants.  In particular, Luisa learns of the local “tigers,” or Tasmanian tigers believed to be extinct. 

As the days pass Luisa learns of her family history through the journals of her great grandmother and discovers her connection to the land.  After spending time with Colin, a local boy with autism who is an expert on environmental and local history, Luisa learns about the rainforest, the extinction of species, the history of the land and how to survive in the wilderness. She also makes the connection that people who don’t understand autism spectrum disorder can misunderstand and mistreat people who fall on the spectrum. Once Luisa is informed, she becomes sympathetic to her friend and defends and protects him from others. Similarly, once she is educated about the Tasmanian Rainforest, she feels compelled to do what she can to improve the situation.  

While Luisa can’t save the land from the mining industry, she can help to protect the Tasmanian tigers using her music. Luisa’s music, like her great grandmother’s music, connects her to the last surviving Tasmanian tiger, enabling the safe capture and relocation of the animal before the land is taken over. Luisa not only saves the tiger, makes a friend and broadens her mind, but the experience helps her to succeed at her next audition. After being so focused on one thing for so long, Luisa sees that opening herself up to new experiences makes her a better human being and a better musician.

I appreciate that this story was set in an unusual place, with unusual species and carries such powerful messages about conservation, empathy, and personal growth. The most prevalent lesson being that once you learn about any type of mistreatment (land, species, human or otherwise) and see its impact first hand, it becomes your duty to respond. Most importantly, watching Luisa use her talents to make a change is a wonderful lesson on the effect one person’s actions can have on the world around us.

Extension activities for librarians working with youth:

  1. Have children locate the Tasmanian Rainforest on a map and find one recent article relating to the rainforest.
  2. Begin family history projects where children research their roots going back as many generations as possible – highlighting marriages, moves and career paths that impacted future generations.
  3. Research a Tasmanian aboriginal person. Share information in group discussions or poster projects.
  4. Research an endangered or extinct species and find the contributing factors to its downfall.

Top 10 Sustainability-Themed Children’s Books

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Each year, the Sustainability Round Table Booklist Committee curates an annual list of 10 notable children’s books on nature, conservation, and communities that reflect the mission of SustainRT “to exchange ideas and opportunities regarding sustainability in order to move toward a more equitable, healthy, and economically viable society”. Check out the 2021 list today by clicking here!

We’re also excited to share the responses of two authors to their books’ inclusion on the 2021 list. Brooke Smith, author of The Keeper of Wild Words, wrote:

I’m so honored to have my book The Keeper of Wild Words chosen as one of the top 10 sustainability themed children’s books of 2021. One of the definitions of sustainability is to endure. To endure is to live on, remain in existence, last. When I found out that the Oxford Junior Dictionary was removing over 100 natural words from its pages because they no longer felt they had relevance for today’s children, I knew I needed to do something. I wanted to help make sure that these wild words live on for future generations.  If the language of the natural world disappears, how will we know what to protect? To love? To cherish? Our children have been handed a world that is in a state of crisis in many ways. As a writer I’m determined to give them what I can…a story that celebrates the natural world and all of these beautiful words, so they can always be remembered.

Lindsey Carmichael, author of The Boreal Forest, wrote:

I am absolutely thrilled that The Boreal Forest has been chosen as one of the best sustainability-themed children’s books for 2021! The boreal biome provides lumber and paper and food and traditional medicines, making it an important natural resource. Even more important are the roles the biome plays in the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and in maintaining biodiversity. Unless the boreal forest is used sustainably, in ways that support recovery and resilience, the consequences will be global and severe. To me, that’s what sustainability is all about: recognizing that plants, animals, people, and the Earth’s land, water, air, and climate are all interdependent. Building respect and a sense of wonder towards the natural world supports sustainable action—and I really hope that this book helps kids see the boreal forest and all its creatures for the wonders they truly are.

Check out The Keeper of Wild Words, The Boreal Forest, and all of the other wonderful books included on the 2021 list, from your local library today!

Member Monday: Mary Beth Lock

Welcome to Member Mondays! The first Monday of each month, we’ll feature a member of SustainRT with a short profile.

We’re super excited to continue our series with this profile of Mary Beth Lock, Associate Dean at Wake Forest University’s Z Smith Reynolds Library. All SustainRT members are welcomed and encouraged to follow Mary Beth’s example and fill out our short self-nomination form in order to become featured in a future Member Monday themselves. We’re looking forward to getting to know one another a little better in hopes of strengthening our community of people committed to sustainability in our profession. Happy Member Monday!

Picture Book Picks for Earth Month and Beyond

Whether for sharing at Storytime, reading at home, or even discussing with a group of grown-ups, check out these fantastic and thought-provoking picture books about our world:

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom — An Indigenous child reflects on the importance of water, the threats that water faces, and the activism her community is undertaking to protect their local water.

If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People by John Coy — Examines what might happen to Earth if people were no longer there.

One Boy’s Choice: A Tale of the Amazons by Sueli Menezes — A boy must choose between impressing his friends and helping to protect an important part of the ecosystem.

The Old Truck by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey — After growing up on a farm where a trusty pickup truck helps complete many tasks, a Black girl becomes a farmer in her own right, and repairs the truck for many more years of use.

Does Earth Feel? by Marc Majewski — Fourteen questions inspire consideration of and empathy for the Earth.

The Thing About Bees Bees: A Love Letter by Shabazz Larkin — A Black father shares an ode to bees with his children, reflecting on how he once feared bees but has come to love their importance to the planet.

Rock by Rock: The Fantastical Garden of Nek Chand by Jennifer Bradbury — This picture book biography of Indian artist Nek Chand celebrates the transformation of discarded materials into new and beautiful purposes.

Greater Cleveland Seed Libraries Open for the 2021 Season

To help make seeds more accessible to those in the community, the Cleveland seed bank partners with public library systems in greater Cleveland to host seed libraries spanning Cuyahoga, Lorain and Lake counties. Each location offers a selection of 24 different varieties of organic, open-pollinated vegetable, herb and edible flower seeds.

Why We Provide Seed Libraries

DID YOU KNOW… In the last century or so, the world has lost 75% of its edible plant varieties. That might be hard to comprehend as many of us have enough food on our plates, but this loss in biodiversity threatens our food and nutrition security. One in five Ohioans is food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from and lack access to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle, as measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Seed libraries offer opportunities to access healthy and affordable food. Increasing self-reliance, fostering a connection to the land, and experiencing bounty are all reasons to celebrate seeds. One seed can yield tens of thousands more and Seed Libraries can encourage a greater appreciation of the resilience of nature. We believe that strengthening knowledge of local food systems and cultivating the skills required for sustainable food production helps to strengthen our community environmentally, economically and socially. Here is a list of seed packets available!

For more information, check out this link!