Just catching up on Gaia/nature reading challenge posts. If you have read anything for the challenge and I have missed it please let me know and I will post a link. Two posts that I have not yet shared are May at Brizzy May’s Books and Bruchetta who posted on the lovely children’s book Tippy and Jellybean by Sophie Cunningham. An uplifting story about koalas surviving the big fires of a couple of years back. And Karen at Living on the Downs posted about Black Beauty for the challenge. If ever a book demonstrated how a story could change things for the better, Black Beauty is it. Want to know more check out the link and read Karen’s post.

Karen has written some great posts of late on the subject of diversity, disability and human rights and it is one of my aims for next year’s reading to seek out a more diverse viewpoint in the environment, and ecology arena. Particularly interested in the intersection of the environment with disability, so if anyone can suggest some good titles to track down please let me know in the comments. My wild child is fond of pointing out; the environment is not an issue that is isolated from all the other issues in society and if we are going to get things right we must consider the community as a whole, in all its sparkling facets. So I am hoping, as always to educate myself a bit more with my reading in next year’s Gaia/nature challenge. I want to read as many diverse voices as possible.

On the subject of diversity in the environmental community, I can recommend Sarah Pye’s book; Saving Sun bears which features the story of Wong Siew Te, (previously reviewed here.) We are used to western voices in the environmental sphere, but it is great to hear from a Malaysian leader in environmental protection. Of particular interest in Saving Sun Bears is Wong’s educational journey.

Once a month Sarah facilitates an environmental discussion zoom with Wong Siew Te, they usually have another guest speaker, often another ecologist or other scientist. I attended my first such session last weekend and I can highly recommend attending! There were quite a few younger people, (kids), in the zoom, in fact, the best question came from a young Canadian attendee, who asked about current outbreaks of African swine fever in the Asian region. The kind of learning environment Sarah and Wong have created is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to learn more about environmental issues directly from scientists working in the field. At the session, I attended we heard Dr Simin Maleknia speak about her research on eNose which can replace dogs in identifying smuggled animals or animal products or help find species in the wild. These monthly discussions are an especially powerful opportunity for kids. The sessions give them access to real world scientists, sometimes leaders in research, it is an inspiring opportunity for junior ecologists.

If you are interested in finding out more or attending one of these sessions check out Sarah’s website here: https://sarahrpye.com/ I have also noticed Sarah announces upcoming sessions via her Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/author_sarahrpye/

And on the subject of Gaia reads thanks to a friend and colleague at work I recently read a wonderful new novel for younger readers, The Raven’s Song by Zana Fraillon and Bren MacDibble. This co-authored adventure is set in a future where humanity has been forced to live simpler, more sustainable lives in order to allow the planet the chance to recover. The story is told through the eyes of two kids living a hundred years apart. Shelby living in her small community in the future, finds the past breaking into her present with strange breeches in the fence protecting the community.

The story flashes back to Phoenix’s time and his life with his extended family in the city. The effects of climate change and pollution are starting to be felt. His story is haunting, with magic realist elements, even paranormal elements told with a poetic sensibility.

The novel is driven by suspense, fine writing and provoking ideas. A great book for younger readers and in the classroom I could see this novel producing much productive thought and conversation around how we treat the natural world and ideas about history. It would make a great class read.

Just one of the many impacts of climate change and habitat loss is the incidence of disease, of pandemics. I would assume this novel was written during the height of the covid pandemic. The Raven’s song addresses the experience of pandemic through powerful, haunting story telling. The best children’s writing can be appreciated and enjoyed by readers of any age and that is certainly the case with The Raven’s song. A great page turning read for readers of any age and I would expect to see this novel on the CBCA short list for 2023. It is a great Gaia/nature read with it’s eco, cli-fi themes.

This might be my last Gaia/ nature post for 2022, I do have a few other books I have started, some almost finished but I may not get to them until next year. The new 2023 challenge is just around the corner. I have done a sign up post for next year here: https://gumtreesandgalaxies.com/2022/11/23/2023-gaia-nature/ When I finally get a bit of time at Christmas I will also post a book bingo for the 2023 challenge. I am just hanging out for a few days off over the Christmas/New Year period. Hope everyone else it is getting in some rest and relaxation over the season and lots of reading of course.

2 thoughts on “Some Gaia updates

  1. Hi Sharon

    I’ve got myself organized for the year ahead, and have a list of books I intend to read and review in 2023 (not necessarily in this order) as part of your Reading Challenge:
    The History of Bees (Maja Lunde) – this one’s a bit of a cheat because I’ve just recently finished it, but will write the review in 2023
    The Wall (John Lanchester)
    The High House (Jessie Greengrass)
    The Fifth Season (book one of the Broken Earth series) (NK Jemisin)
    The Stone Gods (Jeanette Winterson)
    The Ministry for the Future (Kim Stanley Robinson) – also already read, but will review in 2023
    The Swan Book (Alexis Wright)
    Greenwood (Michael Christie)
    The Book of Koli (book one of the Ramp[art Trilogy) (MR Carey)
    Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)
    The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi)
    The Warming (Craig Ensor)
    The Fight of Birds (Joshua Lobb)
    Barkskins (Annie Proulx)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great list and this is definitely a no pressure challenge so nothing is a cheat, just about raising awareness if we can. The High House is frighteningly real given our recent flood experiences and I think I might join you on reading some of the titles on your list especially some of the fiction, i have been meaning to read Greenwood for awhile now, also looking forward to reading your book Fire.


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