Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Who Learns Will Love: The Story of Peace Valley Nature Center by C. Constable


Summary: (Amazon)
WHO LEARNS WILL LOVE anecdotally and pictorially recounts the tale of a determined, creative woman who establishes a Bucks County, PA nature center. Her enthusiasm ignites a love of nature in all who are around her. The early history, environmental education programs, wildlife, and children’s interactions with nature are included in this engaging chronicle of Peace Valley Nature Center.

Carolyn with Corey
Peace Valley Nature Center Website

Videos of PVNC:

Discussion Questions (by Carolyn, who will lead the discussion) 

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Conversations with Birds by P. Kumar


Summary (Milkweed Editions): “Birds are my almanac. They tune me into the seasons, and into myself.”

So begins this lively collection of essays by acclaimed filmmaker and novelist Priyanka Kumar. Growing up at the feet of the Himalayas in northern India, Kumar took for granted her immersion in a lush natural world. After moving to North America as a teenager, she found herself increasingly distanced from more than human life and discouraged by the civilization she saw contributing to its destruction. It was only in her twenties, living in Los Angeles and working on films, that she began to rediscover her place in the landscape—and in the cosmos—by way of watching birds.

Tracing her movements across the American West, this stirring collection of essays brings the avian world richly to life. Kumar’s perspective is not that of a list keeper, counting and cataloguing species. Rather, from the mango-colored western tanager that rescues her from a bout of altitude sickness in Sequoia National Park to ancient sandhill cranes in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and from the snowy plovers building shallow nests with bits of shell and grass to the white-breasted nuthatch that regularly visits the apricot tree behind her family’s casita in Santa Fe, for Kumar, birds “become a portal to a more vivid, enchanted world.”

At a time when climate change, habitat loss, and the reckless use of pesticides are causing widespread extinction of species, Kumar’s reflections on these messengers from our distant past and harbingers of our future offer luminous evidence of her suggestion that “seeds of transformation lie dormant in all of our hearts. Sometimes it just takes the right bird to awaken us.”


Kirkus Review:

Publisher Site



1. Utah Public Radio:

2. North Carolina Wildlife Federation:

3. Shondaland:

Author's Movies and Shows: 

The Song of the Little Road

Kaatrukkenna Veli

Discussion Questions: (Heidi to lead):

(Western Tanager - ebird)

Monday, June 26, 2023

Notes on the Landscape of Home by Susan Shetterly


Summary (Good Reads): “If you pay attention to the land where you live, you enter into conversation with it, until it becomes a voice inside you, and some of the boundaries between you and it dissolve,” write Susan Hand Shetterly. In this collection of elegant, spare, and often passionate essays, Shetterly explores what it is to live in a Down East coastal town, and to pay attention, over time, to what it offers of land, water, wildlife, and community. She takes her cue from Henry David Thoreau and Wendell Berry, who advocate for the virtues of staying in one place, believing that as we delve deeper into the landscape of home the more we learn about the world. As in many other places, this particular home place is in trouble. Shetterly celebrates the work of communities to restore environments their people know and love, and takes a closeup look at what is changing and what has been lost. Among her subjects are the reestablishment of the bald eagle, the reintroduction of the American turkey in Maine, and the turkey vulture’s northward trend. She also writes about shorebird migrations, the bluefin tuna and the humpback and right whales in the Gulf of Maine, counting alewives along a stream in the spring, seaweed cultivation in a bay, a forest’s rebirth, the island that gave her the imaginative space she needed, and more. She recounts how she and her neighbors kept each other company at a distance during the long months of the pandemic, and she celebrates coastal culture, its particular, deep history that anchors a person’s sense of place.


Wall Street Journal:


Author's Website

(Wall Street Journal)

Discussion Questions (John will lead this discussion and here are his questions)

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Feb, Bog and Swamp by A. Proulx


Summary (Amazon):

From Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx—whose novels are infused with her knowledge and deep concern for the earth—comes a riveting, revelatory history of our wetlands, their ecological role, and what their systematic destruction means for the planet.

A lifelong environmentalist, Annie Proulx brings her wide-ranging research and scholarship to the subject of wetlands and the vitally important yet little understood role they play in preserving the environment—by storing the carbon emissions that greatly contribute to climate change. Fens, bogs, swamps, and marine estuaries are the earth’s most desirable and dependable resources, and in four stunning parts, Proulx documents the long-misunderstood role of these wetlands in saving the planet.

Taking us on a fascinating journey through history, Proulx shows us the fens of 16th-century England to Canada’s Hudson Bay lowlands, Russia’s Great Vasyugan Mire, America’s Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the 19th-century explorers who began the destruction of the Amazon rain forest. Along the way, she writes of the diseases spawned in the wetlands—the Ague, malaria, Marsh Fever—and the surprisingly significant role of peat in industrialization.

A sobering look at the degradation of wetlands over centuries and the serious ecological consequences, this is a stunningly important work and a rousing call to action by a writer whose passionate devotion to understanding and preserving the environment is on full and glorious display.

Interviews and Articles:



Simon and Schuster Site about Author


Discussion Questions: (Anne will be leading and provided these questions)

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren


Summary (Good Reads): Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl
 is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

NY Times



Discussion Questions (Bev will be leading the discussion and has provided the following questions)

Friday, March 31, 2023

Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires that Run the World by O. Milman


Summary: (Amazon)

A devastating examination of how collapsing insect populations worldwide threaten everything from wild birds to the food on our plate.

From ants scurrying under leaf litter to bees able to fly higher than Mount Kilimanjaro, insects are everywhere. Three out of every four of our planet’s known animal species are insects. In The Insect Crisis, acclaimed journalist Oliver Milman dives into the torrent of recent evidence that suggests this kaleidoscopic group of creatures is suffering the greatest existential crisis in its remarkable 400-million-year history. What is causing the collapse of the insect world?  Why does this alarming decline pose such a threat to us? And what can be done to stem the loss of the miniature empires that hold aloft life as we know it?

With urgency and great clarity, Milman explores this hidden emergency, arguing that its consequences could even rival climate change. He joins the scientists tracking the decline of insect populations across the globe, including the soaring mountains of Mexico that host an epic, yet dwindling, migration of monarch butterflies; the verdant countryside of England that has been emptied of insect life; the gargantuan fields of U.S. agriculture that have proved a killing ground for bees; and an offbeat experiment in Denmark that shows there aren’t that many bugs splattering into your car windshield these days. These losses not only further tear at the tapestry of life on our degraded planet; they imperil everything we hold dear, from the food on our supermarket shelves to the medicines in our cabinets to the riot of nature that thrills and enlivens us. Even insects we may dread, including the hated cockroach, or the stinging wasp, play crucial ecological roles, and their decline would profoundly shape our own story.

By connecting butterfly and bee, moth and beetle from across the globe, the full scope of loss renders a portrait of a crisis that threatens to upend the workings of our collective history. Part warning, part celebration of the incredible variety of insects, The Insect Crisis is a wake-up call for us all.

Author's Website:



Science News:


Discussion Questions: (John will lead the discussion and provided the questions)

Friday, March 3, 2023

Prayers from the Ark and The Creatures' Choir by C. Bernos de Gasztold



Summary (Amazon):

These prayers were first published, in French, in 1947 by a private press. Rumer Godden discovered a volume of them and translated them into English. The poem-prayers are at once reverent, humorous, realistic and concise.

Information about author:



The Poems set to music:

The Prayer of the Mouse by Grace Immaculata:



Download through library or school:

Discussion Questions (from Jan C.)