Beating a Rainbow to Death

By | October 10, 2012

“The dorado did a most extraordinary thing as it died: it began to flash all kinds of colors in rapid succession. Blue, green, red, gold, and violet flickered and shimmered neon-like on its surface as it struggled. I felt like I was beating a rainbow to death” —Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Maybe once upon a time, Americans felt that they had to fight against nature. Just after they hopped off the Mayflower, perhaps. Or that first winter in Jamestown. Along the Oregon Trail. (although, if they’d asked the people that were already living here, they might’ve learned different, but that’s another column). For most of us, it’s no longer like that. Unless a disaster happens. Like it does to the main character of Life of Pi, by Yann Martel.

What I do want to do is examine this book on two fronts with you. Because Pi is unique because it is a book about both religion and nature. Our relationship with God, and our relationship with creation.

On the most basic level this is a story about a shipwreck. But there’s so much more to it than that (and why does every book I read this summer have a shipwreck in it, anyway?). Pi endures grief and fear of nature (the ship sank and he’s drifting on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger). But he also experiences transcendence through both nature in general and the tiger himself. He sees the stars from the middle of the ocean. He realizes that without the tiger in front of him keeping his focus, he would be forced to face his very real grief.

But I can’t quote the whole book for you. Read it if you’d like. Instead, let’s use the story as a launching point to think quickly about our own relationship to both God and nature. And since we tend to focus on parenting around here, let’s take that into consideration too.

Is nature something to conquer, or something to enjoy? Before you answer, think again. How many times have you gone mountain biking and talked throughout about how it’s you “against” the trail? Or climbed to the summit of a mountain and spoken of how you’ve “defeated” it? Victory!

Just exactly what is it we feel about nature, anyway? It makes a person wonder just how much of those pioneer forebears we still have “inside” our heads, shaking in their homemade shoes as wolves howl outside the door of their log cabin from the seemingly endless woods.

This is, essentially, what the title character faces in the scene that gives this post its title. Hunger and tiger danger are the wolves in this case, but regardless, Pi—a vegetarian his whole life, and a passivist one at that—needs to eat and needs to feed the tiger, lest it see him as food. So he does what he has to do to survive. Like those pioneers might’ve.

But the thing is, we’re not them. That’s not to diminish the real danger of nature, still. There are people who get lost on Mt. Washington or Denali, and some die. God rest their souls, but on another level, thank goodness we still have enough nature left that they can get lost in. That said, though, the point still stands: the USA has been completely explored and domesticated at this point (with the possible exception of Alaska). Not totally, no—but there are no wolves outside our door. Not mine, anyway.

And so, we stand before our children as their role models. How do we relate to the outdoors? Are they a challenge? Sure. But do they need to be a challenger? Do we need to speak of doing battle against it? Of course not.

And here’s where spirituality comes into play. Might we not do better to portray nature for our little ones as a gift from a higher power—call It what you will—that we are here on earth to care for? Dare I say, that we are here to be stewards of? (which implies to me a little more active caretaking).

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden�to work it and take care of it.” —Genesis 2:15

No Bikes in Narnia: A Review of Wildwood by Colin Meloy

By | September 19, 2012

At first glance, Wildwood sounds familiar. Evil magical woman leader? Check. Kids as heroes? Yes. Ominous canines as femme fatales’s pawns? 10-4! Talking animals? Oh, yeah. Now that a second book is on its way, the set is even called “Wildwood Chronicles.”

I love the Decemberists. If you didn’t know, this is the band for which Colin Meloy is the singer and primary songwriter. However, I also deeply love C. S. Lewis. Enough to take a college class about him. To travel to England to see his home. Enough to search around Oxford with an old photograph from one of his books trying to find his grave (I succeeded). Suffice to say, I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia a couple of times.

And yes, the above comparisons are true. When I began reading the songwriter’s first novel, I was… concerned. Just how close was he going to stick to Lewis’s plot lines?

But now that I’ve finished, I won’t deny the comparisons, but The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and this book are vastly different. While Lewis seems out to create a world of the past, full of fauns and dryads, Meloy goes for a much more “real” world. Yes, the animals speak, but they live a life much more like and aware of the “Outsider” world around them (there’s no “Spare Oom” scenes, in other words).

And there’s another aspect of Wildwood‘s “accessibility.” Narnia is entered somewhat randomly, at the will of the lion Aslan, which reflects Lewis’s Christian slant and intentions for the books. When Aslan wants you, a way is made ready for you (which reminds one of the Buddhist maxim: the teacher will appear when the student is ready, but that’s another story).

But Wildwood is different. Though protected by magic (c’mon, the book is aimed at kids after all), the main characters are seen over and over again, to each character they meet, explaining that they did nothing special, they just walked into the woods. In fact, in a major scene, Prue (the female lead) leaves the magical woods and simply goes home for the evening. Then decides to come back. And does. No crashing trains or fuss or muss (unless a giant ghost bridge is “fuss”).

And of course there’s the aspect I alluded to with the title. This is an up-to-date story for modern times, and that doesn’t mean nothing. Prue carries into the woods a messenger bag with Gorp inside. She rides a bike she upgraded herself. Her parents visit a farmer’s market (of course, these have been around forever—but you know what I mean) Maybe the C of N felt like this when they initially were released, but they certainly don’t anymore. They are still beloved, but as time capsules.

But those are only technical observations. There’s something deeper that makes me truly love this book, and feel the need to write about it here. And that is this theme of the accessibility of the forest for our own children. As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, Prue and Curtis simply walk into what they’ve been told all their lives is an Impassable Wilderness. Richard Louv, are you hearing this?

But that is only the start and most obvious instance of what I’m talking about. It’s more than access. The way Wildwood speaks to our relationships with nature encourages readers to interact with nature. Animals like owls and golden eagles who at first appear to be intimidating are later shown to be friendly and helpful. Birds in particular come off well in this book (Crane wife, anyone?). Three major characters of the story are plant life (two of these, benevolent).

We also see the city and the country contrasted in a reasonably subtle way. The northern part of the Impassable Wilderness is full of cute yet potentially vicious animals (a rabbit with a collander for a helmet, for example) that seem quaint but prove to be much more helpful in Prue’s mission than the seemingly sophisticated but dangerously narrow minded city folk (the south).

And in the wild part of the woods that separates the two live the Wildwood Bandits. These unexplainedly Celtic banditos seem to have paid a lot of attention to Robin Hood at some point in their lives (hence the accent, perhaps), but though they are essentially anarchists, they are fair and just. If I may step aside from talk about nature for just one moment, this oft-used contrast of scruffy (but noble) bandits & the beautiful (but quite evil) Dowager Governess is—to my mind—an excellent message for young female readers to hear. Not to mention the fact that the primary hero of this story is a seventh grade girl (cue smiling spirit of Madeleine L’Engle here).

The animals talk. That is an unavoidable comparison. But to suggest that they say the same things as Lewis’s Narnians is to not read either book closely enough. A little like Robinson Crusoe, Colin Meloy’s Wildwood is a figurative island/world not removed from, but present in the real world. And because of that, the book suggests what any forest can be to our kids. We longed to get to Narnia, but never could. But somehow, the Wildwood is everywhere there are still trees.


{Also, I like the illustrations better. Carson Ellis, Bravo!}

Keeping Your Cool at the Amusement Park

By | August 28, 2012

So, you have young kids and are heading out to the amusement park… What are you? Nuts?

This is what people asked me when we were planning to take our kids to Cedar Point in Ohio earlier this year.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Cedar Point. Last time I was there they had a whole Berenstain Bears theme for their kids area. It was close to the front and right on the main drag. Six years ago, a bunch of parks changed ownership, partnerships were hatched, and property merged. I am assuming this is when the bears were kicked to the curb in exchange for a Peanuts theme. But I digress.

I am writing to share what worked (and what didn’t work) when we took our two- and five-year-old kids to the amusement park.

My first bit of advice: Make a bee-line to the kids’ rides, preferably those in the back. The rides in the back make sense only if you can get to them in less than 15 minutes. If not, head for the closest. Interest wanes fast, and if you take your time (like we did) you get a lot of whining and complaining. Maybe it would have been better if we had ridden the easy-going drive-the-car ride before heading back. But instead, we jumped on the Sky Ride, and then leisurely walked around the back the park before coming up on the kids’ section. BIG MISTAKE. By the time we reached Jr Gemini Children’s Area, the fragile balance that is a functioning family unit was beginning to sway. It was only some amazing parenting that kept the kids pleasant enough to enjoy a few rides.

Of course, even kids get tired of the kids’ rides after awhile. That’s when they turn to Ferris wheels and carousels. So chose the timing of mainstream rides carefully. In most cases, the grown-up rides are simply off limits to the shorter set. But kids love merry-go-rounds. While there was hardly ever a line for the little kid rides, after noon we found the line for the Ferris wheel growing. Our two-year-old wasn’t going to wait 30 minutes in the hot sun for a ride he didn’t understand (why can’t they ever have shade?!), so that leads me to my third piece of advice:

Play in the fountain. Seriously. Why is it always 105 when you go to the amusement park? After a day of chasing shade, you will find you’re still sweating like a bear in a fur coat. And if you’re this hot, the kids are too. If you see running water they can play in, by all means stop. Their clothes will dry, and it’s really very likely to be the most fun they’ll have all day.

There are other tidbits that might make the visit easier: split the trip into two days, so you’re not fighting to “get your money’s worth” in one afternoon; spend the late afternoon at the beach; take a siesta and head back the hotel or campsite for naps. But we didn’t do any of these, so I will leave the dispensing of that wisdom to those wiser than me.

Car Music as Outdoor Training?

By | August 9, 2012

My daughter is slightly obsessed with “If a Tree Falls” by Bruce Cockburn. So I wanted to do a bit of a hyperlink experiment with the song. The results follow. Stay tuned afterwards for my thoughts on how this ties into the experience of all of us with our kids, outdoors.



Rain forest:

Mist and mystery
Teeming green
Green brain facing lobotomy
Climate control centre for the world
Ancient cord of coexistence
Hacked by parasitic greedhead scam
From Sarawak to Amazonas
Costa Rica to mangy B.C. hills
Cortege rhythm of falling timber.

What kind of currency grows in these new deserts,
These brand new flood plains?

If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?

Cut and move on
Cut and move on
Take out trees
Take out wildlife at a rate of species every single day
Take out people who’ve lived with this for 100,000 years
Inject a billion burgers worth of beef
Grain eaters — methane dispensers.

Through thinning ozone,
Waves fall on wrinkled earth
Gravity, light, ancient refuse of stars,
Speak of a drowning
But this, this is something other.
Busy monster eats dark holes in the spirit world
Where wild things have to go
To disappear

If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
If a tree falls in the forest does anybody hear?
Anybody hear the forest fall?


This is of course only one—rather pedantic, but beloved—song that could be used to teach your kids about the outdoors. But there are so many other directions to take this idea:

This is a topic that could be taken in at least three different directions that I’ll discuss here, but I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll come up with many more.

The first is represented by Cockburn’s song. That is listening to adult music with your child and helping them to process it. Jack Johnson’s “The 3 R’s” is a good example of this.

Another path is music created specifically for children. It is slightly easier to find songs that relate to the outdoors in this genre. SteveSongs, “The Water Cycle” or “Spyrtle the Turtle” are great examples, as are many of the songs They Might Be Giants have been putting out for kids lately, particularly on Here Comes Science. “Electric Car” comes quickly to mind.

A third path would be songs that are related tangentially to the outdoors. A song about the plight of Native Americans could bring up great discussion with your child about how they feel about the earth. A song about mythical beings like fairies, mermaids, or the Loch Ness monster might provoke quite a discussion about what all might be out there in nature that we are simply unaware of… which brings us back to the rainforest, where new creatures are discovered all the time.


Give this article some life: respond in the comments below how you might use music to teach your child about nature, and I’ll incorporate it into the article itself!

Dino Week

By | July 9, 2012

Kids love dinosaurs. I remember years back my friend’s five-year-old son reciting the names of what must have been a hundred dinosaurs. He had dino toys, posters, and place mats. He was even pointing out where lazy editors had misidentified dinosaurs in his books. I am not sure he still retains this info at 12, but it was fascinating to see his level of interest.

So that’s what we’re doing this week: exploring the world of dinosaurs.

  • Monday – Visit the library and get books on dinosaurs. Have a fun reading time, and then using our art supplies we’ll make our favorite dinosaurs
  • Tuesday – A trip to the museum. In our case Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado. Back in Michigan, a couple traveling exhibits have passed through. But you can find dino shows all over.
  • Wednesday – Freeze plastic dinosaurs (or, better yet, plastic bones) in large bowls of water. Using tools, “dig” for the “fossils.” Maybe grow dinosaurs (the rubber kind that grow after soaking a day in water).
  • Thursday – Talk about the relationship between birds and dinosaurs (you can find information on this online). Go outside and watch birds for awhile. Then we’ll cut feathers out of construction paper and glue them on a picture of a dinosaur.

Looking for Fossils

Butterfly in the Kitchen: Our Experience Of Metamorphosis

By | July 5, 2012

Glory, Monarch butterfly“I can’t believe my mind! … It’s glorious!” Now, I don’t know about you, but these are not words I typically hear from my six-year-old. They were prompted by the “birth” of our Monarch butterfly, which she promptly named Glory.

It’s not that The Pretender (she wants to play make-believe ALL THE TIME) isn’t impressed by nature. I’ve written before on this website about her lifelong love of being outside. But this was by far the most emotional reaction I’ve heard.

Maybe this was a mini version of what we all went through when our children were born. It involved patience, and watching, and waiting, and wondering. When would it happen? What would it look like? Will it like me? And so when Glory finally arrived, it prompted a smaller version of the emotional catharsis that I, for one, experienced when The Pretender was born.

So how did we arrive at this emotional moment? And how can you do the same with your kids? That’s what I’m here to tell you about.

So, the first thing you need to make this happen is a milkweed plant. These are the plants you may remember from your childhood as having pods of seeds that resemble a fish when they’re cracked open. I was told something about baby Moses in a basket that I can’t fully remember. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go HERE.

Ideally, you’ll find a Monarch caterpillar on one of these plants. Or you can go to a mail-order place (teacher stores are good sources), but you’ll still need milkweed for the caterpillar to eat. And wow, do they! The Hungry Caterpillar book isn’t very far off the mark, lemme tell you. We’re talking about two or three leaves a day would be a good first guess. I brought home two whole plants and ours didn’t eat them all.

The fresher the leaves the better. My source said to wash the leaves but really, is the caterpillar going to do that in the wild? No. And try not to get the white “milk” on your skin—it’s sticky like pine sap and quite annoying.

We’ve looked for a long while, but it was Grandma that came through with our caterpillar.

We put ours in an unused fishbowl, but a large glass jar would be fine. It’s not like the caterpillar wants to do gymnastics. Just eat leaves. Just make it big enough that when it becomes a butterfly, there will be room to stretch out its wings to dry—and a clear way out. (This is why a soda bottle, etc. won’t work, although with plastic, you could just slice open the top when it’s time, so maybe it would work quite well!)

So, after a few days, which will depend on just how old she or he is when you acquire them, they will start to think about becoming a cocoon (aka chrysalis or pupa). How, you might be asking, do you know what they’re thinking? Well, they start to make a distinct “J” shape. I’m not sure why, but it’s a certain sign that they’re about to go into the cocoon. They’ll attach themselves to the side of whatever you’ve given them with a strand of … something, and then something happens that I didn’t see. I honestly don’t know where the cocoon comes from, but my unscientific observations suggest that it happened too fast and fit too tightly to be woven, like so many of us were taught. I think it’s a final layer of skin that comes from within the caterpillar. Whatever it is, you will be surprised by how pretty the cocoon is. Light green with brilliant gold highlights, and a shape somewhere between a pill capsule and sports car but unlike either one.

Ours greatly valued privacy and waited until we left to perform both this step and the next.

Now the waiting game begins. You will wonder if you’ve done something wrong. If that’s even possible once it is in this state. If it should be kept in sun, or shade, or … or … Deep breath. Relax. Everything is fine. You might want to make a note on your calendar when the little bugger makes the chrysalis, because it will be anywhere from 10 days to 2 weeks before you have a butterfly. Trust me—you’ll forget when it went in there. No matter how exciting it seems to you the day it happens, you’ll forget.

When the cocoon turns black, you are getting very close. It’s time to start thinking about cleaning out the jar, making sure there’s room to stretch wings, maybe stick some fresh flowers in there if you’ve got ’em.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see the butterfly emerge. But don’t plan on it. I’m tellin’ ya, they’re tricky, private little creatures!

Metaphorically, this process is so rich with meaning, and so often referenced, that your child will obviously gain an intimate interaction with nature, but it’s worth remembering that they will also be given a vivid mental picture that will likely stick with them for their whole life.

There’s no overstating the point: seeing a hungry, striped little fat worm turn into a flying stained glass window is amazing.

Summer Hiking Montage

By | July 2, 2012

I love summer, but when it gets this hot, the risk of heat stroke is very real for me. After a long day, after I come home and wring the sweat from my shirt, I’ve just been too exhausted from the heat to sit at the computer and dream up posts. So I am cheating a bit with this one.

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking this summer, snapping away with the camera as I go. Here are a few of my favorites. (Normally I am not a big stickler on copyright and all that, but these will likely end up in my next book, so I want to make sure everyone knows these are protected and all that.)

Bug Week

By | June 27, 2012

Going on a Bug Hunt with KidsI am without my kids for several weeks this summer. While I waste these gorgeous summer days inside, writing like a madman, Grace and Tater are in Colorado with their cousin, Amelia. To keep order, their Aunt Nikki scheduled daily outings and even went so far as to give each week a theme. Rock on!

This week is bug week, and the kids are having a blast. There have been bug hunts, plastic bugs, workbooks with math lessons (featuring bugs!), a visit to the butterfly pavilion, and notebooks in which each kid can draw a picture of their favorite bug. Yesterday Grace actually touched a tarantula. I couldn’t even get her to pet a hedgehog a couple months back.

Here’s her official schedule of activities:

  • Monday Pom Pom Critters from Jo-Ann Fabrics
  • Tuesday The Butterfly Pavilion, half-mile nature walk with journal to record observations, read Diary of a Spider
  • Wednesday Make rock bugs and nature bugs. These are craft projects using found materials like rocks, sticks, leaves, etc.
  • Thursday Make and wear bug masks. Watch bugs in a bug box using a magnifying glass and draw what you see.

I will be honest: Nothing like this has ever occurred to me. So I am sharing this here and thinking of themes for their return: Tree Week? Water Week? Bird Week? I am just getting started. And with the various resources available online, there are plenty of activities that will boost your efforts, such as adding math or reading into the mix.

I will share next week’s theme next week. In the meantime, what are your ideas?

Backyard Cool

By | June 22, 2012

This started as a post on a cool way to make bubbles. Tater still hasn’t mastered the art of blowing bubbles through that small wand, so we found a way to use old 20-ounce pop bottles and socks to make bubble snakes.

But then I realized that the bubble solution (6 parts water, 2 parts dish soap, 3/4 part corny syrup) was going to be insanely messy. So I added a sprinkler to the mix; our friend Julie brought her son over with an arsenal of water pistols; and we suddenly had the perfect solution for a 95-degree day.

The Mom 100 Cookbook: A Book Report

By | June 20, 2012

As a dad who is the primary caregiver at least two days a week, who cooks a huge portion of our meals, and does a lot of stuff that we were all raised to think of as “women’s work,” I raise an eyebrow when the mom label gets used on stuff that doesn’t need it.

Feminine hygiene products? Sure, a sticker that says “made for a woman” is appropriate. But a cookbook for people who are cooking for a family doesn’t need to be a “mom’s” cookbook. Really, it doesn’t. And while I am sure the title of this book, The Mom 100 Cookbook, makes sense because it was written by a mom, it sort of limits the audience to where I was going to skip it altogether.

And this, my friends, is where having an open mind and thick skin pays off. I looked beyond the cover that told me “This book is not for you, man-person” and found a GREAT cookbook that didn’t actually require me to have lady parts.

Small confession: I am a bit of an addict when it comes to cookbooks. We have a cabinet in the kitchen especially dedicated for a large collection of books that illuminate everything from how to boil and egg and bake a potato, to the proper preparation for traditional samosas and a special marinade from the Black Dog on Martha’s Vineyard.

I love cookbooks. Even when they don’t always love me back. That’s one of the reasons I like this back-to-basics collection of recipes from Katie Workman. The Mom 100 Cookbook gets it right. The recipes are simple but delicioussome healthy, some not so muchand they all turn out like they should. Perhaps by some fortunate aligning of the stars the author’s test kitchen is calibrated the same as mine. Or maybe after 30 years I am finally getting a hang of recipes (though I’ve always been loose with direction in the kitchen). Whatever the reason, I follow Katie Workman’s recipes, and the meals turn out pretty solid.

The organizing principle here is a series of scenarios and dilemmas , the kind of thing parents are hit with at least once a week: finding healthy snacks; how can I make chicken less boring; what, we’re going to a potluck?! So far I’ve found myself using these categories a half dozen times when faced with culinary conundrums. Each of these 20 chapters has five recipes (often variations on a theme) that add up to 100 recipes in all (thus the title). All the recipes are pretty basic fare, but there are a lot of suggestions for changing it up a bit.

For this post, we tried the Sesame Noodles, which is found in the chapter on pasta. Peanut butter sauce, regular spaghetti, and some fresh veggies. I over did it on the sauce not taking into account our shortage of noodles, so it was a bit looser than I expected, but it was a big hit with the family.

There are also dozens of great ideas for including your kids in meal prep. As a controlling dad in the kitchen, this pushes me a little beyond my comfort zone. But there’s no good excuse for keeping kids out of the kitchen, and these suggestions are great guidance for someone who’s never quite sure how much to let children participate.

Father’s Day is past, but perhaps for dad’s birthday you can skip Cooking for the Man Cave and get him a copy of The Mom 100 Cookbook.


A Greener Giving Tree

By | June 9, 2012

As part of my job, I’ve been reading The Giving Tree many many times lately, and my formerly rosy opinion of this tale of an apple tree’s friendship with a boy has changed a bit.

At the start of the book, we should take it more seriously when the boy plays “King of the Forest”. It’s foreshadowing, because that’s how he’ll act later in the book. But this is just me taking the story of a childlike moment too seriously. Greater issues occur as we get deeper into the book.

For instance, to show his love for the tree, the boy carves his name into the tree’s flesh: Me + T. An odd way to show affection for a tree, but he’s just a little kid. Any parent knows that kids can be aggressive in their love, right?

It’s when the boy grows older that things get really strange. He wants money, and the tree gives him apples to sell. Nothing wrong there (except that he’s disappeared until he needed something, as he’ll do throughout the story, but let’s set that aside) except that in his young love (for someone else) he has once again taken to carving into the tree’s flesh.

And then things get serious. When he’s old enough to want a house and a wife and children, he asks, can the tree give him a house? It’s not clear whether the boy or tree is to be blamed (or the author) but instead of simply taking that year’s apples and selling them, and building a house with the money, the boy removes the tree’s limbs. A little weird, but trees can grow new limbs, can’t they? Forget the fact that the limbs of one tree would never be enough to build any house. This is, of course, a fable, a children’s story. I get that. But at a moment when the book could teach a real lesson about sustainability, it chooses to go for the one time “gift” or sacrifice of the tree simply giving its branches. Why doesn’t the young man (who loved trees as a child) start an orchard?

And though the boy/man is gone for a long time, the tree chooses to grow no more branches. And when he returns, he is sad. Fair enough. Sad enough that he wants to escape. Perhaps he should’ve thought to escape into nature for solaceback to the tree that seems to have had a large part in raising him. But instead he makes the choice (or takes the tree’s gift) to cut down the trunk, the main body, of the apple tree he once cherished. He makes a boat and sails away to an undisclosed location. This doesn’t really seem like the best way to tell kids to deal with their problems, in my humble and respectful-of-Shel opinion. (Note: I’ve only read the first few paragraphs of this link. Full disclosure). Another opportunity missed.

Finally, the boy and tree come together once more at the end of the book in a very zen moment where the tree has nothing to give and the boy (finally) needs nothing. Convenient that the boy is in fact the one who has taken everything, “enabling” the tree to be in this reduced state. And before you say it: it’s immaterial whether the tree offered or the boy took. That’s called co-dependency, isn’t it?

Of course I’m over-reading everything here. And it’s easy to second guess a classic piece of children’s lit. Still, I think these can each be real discussion points and learning moments with our kids. And I honestly think the book shows a bias to an old way of thinking that I, for one, don’t want my child to espouse. And what makes this the most poignant is that the book seems so touchy-feely pro-nature & warm fuzzies.

Look, I get it. We’re all careless about green things sometimes, aren’t we? Maybe I’m too tired to put each little thing into recycling or whatever. My personal eco-sin is that I’m horrible about using too much water, for example. But by and large, I try. On the whole, I do make an effort to show my daughter recycling and cleaning up litter on a regular basis. I try to give to nature, too, in other words. Do I do as much for it as it does for me? Maybe not. But I try.

It’s too bad Shel Silverstein isn’t still with us so that he could perhaps give us a more modern and enlightened picture of a tree-loving boy, don’t you think?