Curiosity and Creativity can Make a Difference

Air pollution. It is everywhere. As a child in Los Angeles, I remember having smog alerts and days where they didn’t want you to play outside because the air quality was not great. Some have made great strides to reduce the pollution that we produce, but it continues to be a problem. In the US, it can be harder to understand how we are polluting the sky because it often comes from things we cannot specifically see – natural wildfires, pollutants from large manufacturing factories, exhaust from cars and trucks, and even animal waste on large farms. When you don’t live near a large factory, see the way factory farming has evolved, or even don’t have to worry about a ton of traffic, you might not understand what all of the concern is about. In other countries, the causes of pollution can be more easily seen and can be harder to avoid. Such is the story in Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea by Elizabeth Suneby.

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*Note – I received digital ARC of this book from NetGalley for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Iqbal lives in Bangladesh. His family cooks all of their meals over open fire. This causes a great deal of air pollution, but it isn’t a big concern until monsoon season hits and the family must bring the fire and cooking inside where the pollution builds on a micro level. Fire is a great cooking source, but the smoke from the fire can be hazardous to your health, especially if contained in a small space. According to the EPA, “the biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into your lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to aggravated chronic heart and lung diseases.”

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Iqbal sees this happening in his own family as his mother and sister start getting sick during monsoon season. Unfortunately, Iqbal and his family cannot afford to convert to gas. Instead, when the upcoming science fair has a theme of sustainability, Iqbal decides that he wants to design a stove that will not produce smoke. With the help of his teacher, he studies solar energy and comes up with a way to win the science fair and help his family.

This is a wonderful book because it encourages kids to think outside of the box and find ways to help at the individual level as well as the global level. I also like the fact it introduces children to another culture and to the developing world. It can be hard to see how vast our world is without being open to books that show a wide array. Suneby also encourages kids to try something themselves by having a project to build a solar powered pizza oven in the back of the book. A great teaching tool!

nfpb18I challenge myself to review a nonfiction picture book every week as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and continue to be amazed at the high quality nonfiction picture books available. Check out Alyson’s site for a link-up of amazing nonfiction books!

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