Home Arts Book Review: ‘AB(Zero)C: A Low-Carbon Footprint Alphabet’

Book Review: ‘AB(Zero)C: A Low-Carbon Footprint Alphabet’

“AB(zero)C” (Home Planet Books, 2022) is no ordinary alphabet book. Montpelier author Randi Hacker uses 26 rhymes to introduce young children and possibly older ones to everyday actions that may cool our rapidly heating planet. Mary Camille Connolly’s engaging watercolor illustrations show clothes drying on lines, rain barrels, solar panels, and even Greta Thunberg leading a “skolstrejk” (school strike) for climate change. While a few of the rhymes don’t scan easily, others, such as “H is for heart,” are a delight. 

Hacker, who also wrote the award-winning “M is for Masks,” doesn’t shy away from complex vocabulary or big ideas. Her new book can be read to preschoolers or read with older students. Some of the strategies the author shares may not be possible for children to initiate on their own (although the “shower speedway game” has potential) but the family discussions that will follow make this book especially valuable. What is “carbon?” What does the word “physics” mean? Reading this book may be a learning experience even for adults. Finding the simplest way to explain big ideas can enrich our own understanding. 

The tone is upbeat and empowering. Children hear climate change talked about in the media and in their own homes. They may not yet have a full understanding, but even the youngest will pick up the tension many adults are feeling, even those who profess to deny the science. It can be calming to know you have the power to help. Hacker’s book may remind grandparents and great grandparents of those black-and-white photos from World War II showing children saving scrap metal and bringing dimes into school to buy War Bonds. Although their efforts were relatively small, the children felt a sense of accomplishment, of being part of an important cause. 

In the same way, teaching 21st century children how to become involved in the challenges of climate change can make them feel less helpless in the face of a growing crisis. 

This book, and others like it, is a publication of Home Planet Books, a company founded by the author with this mission: “Our books aim to empower youth by preparing them for life on what will essentially be a different planet by encouraging them to believe individual action counts and by working with them to envision and create a future that is better than the one they are being handed.” 

“AB(zero)C” will be available on April 22, 2022 at Bear Pond Books and other local bookstores.