Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Liquid Life

Yesterday morning our Tri-County Emergency service called all residents advising them to run a pencil-size stream of water to avoid the freezing of their pipes.  We are expected to receive some of the coldest temperatures this winter in the next few days.  Although from personal experience I am aware of the damage frozen pipes can cause, it gave me pause to think of all the water running unused down most people's drains.  Would any of them save it for other uses?

For those who, through choice, go vacation camping or on longer adventures without running water, steps are taken as preparation in advance.  There is usually the sure knowledge of being able to return to a facility or home to experience the luxury of easily accessible water.  If you have ever had to live without indoor plumbing or even a water pump, you understand it is true comfort.

Nothing could have prepared me for the wealth of information presented in Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home (Orca Book Publishers, April 1, 2014) written by Michelle Mulder.  It's currently one of the titles listed for the Silver Birch 2015 Nonfiction Award given by the Ontario Library Association's Libraries Advance Ontario Project.  Every single drop of water has value.

Have you ever been to a place where it's dangerous to rinse your toothbrush under the tap?

With that introductory sentence Michelle Mulder tells the story of her life-threatening experience.  In the next four chapters, A Drop To Drink, Riding The Water Cycle, Pump It Up and Deepening The Well she converses with readers about all things relative to water.  She will reaffirm what you may already know, astound you with what you didn't know and have you committed to making a difference.

We begin at the beginning when people found and followed water in order to live.  They hauled it, collected it, redirected it, and dug for it.  How is it that the Minoans had flush toilets 3,600 years ago but they were not easily available in most places in Europe or North American until more recently? Aqueducts got bigger and better from the Greeks to the Romans but you might shudder when you read about the public facilities.  You'll learn about qanats, aquifers, puquios and the invention of steam engines.  With the planet becoming more populated water systems evolved (or didn't) depending on the predominant culture.  You will be thankful to read about the changes in the disposal of waste water.

Of all the water on our planet most of it is undrinkable.  In a balanced cycle without the climate changes we are seeing now, water (simplified) goes up into clouds falling back to the earth as rain or snow.  Natural systems such as wetlands are in place to purify water but they are overwhelmed or disappearing.  All over the world people have been creating ways to find and keep the water they use clean.  It's a good thing they've been doing this.  It takes thousands of years to form an underground aquifer.

Can you imagine not being able to get an education because your day is spent finding drinking water or because you are so often sick from bad water?  Making sure it's clean is a challenge.  Can you boil it?  Can you build a biosand filter?  Can you use a clay pot?  How about a bunch of nails?  The question of making undrinkable water drinkable is answered in amazing and cringe-worthy ways.

In order to guarantee generations will have access to clean water, steps are being taken to cut down on consumption; the creation of toilets using less or no water are two.  During times of plentiful rain it is captured and saved thanks to a system devised by a ten-year-old girl in India.  Farmers are designing their fields as done in the past to make the best use of rain.  All you have to do is read about Professor Wangari Maathai to understand the value in planting a tree.  You will be amazed by the efforts of FogQuest.  Each one of us, person by person, has a chance to make changes in little every day ways or by joining larger efforts.  It's up to us; one drop at a time.

What makes these forty-eight pages of nonfiction so wonderful for readers is the style chosen by Michelle Mulder to present the efforts of her research.  Each chapter is broken into segments captioned with headings such as


Throughout the narrative she inserts Go with the Flow paragraphs highlighting personal experiences throughout the world.  Nearly every two pages contain a short WATER FACT. 

Canada has less than 1 percent of Earth's population but enjoys 20 percent of its available fresh water.  China has 20 percent of the world's population and only 7 percent of its fresh water.

Imagine all the water of the world in a four-liter (one-gallon) bucket.  Only a tablespoon would be drinkable fresh water.

One in six people don't have access to clean water.  Almost half of those people live in Africa.

Michelle Mulder has what I like to call passion with a purpose.  She wants us to see the big picture bringing it to readers in an engaging manner, using understandable vocabulary.  All the people from various points in the world who have struggled with getting water, using it and preserving it become like our next-door neighbors.  Her efforts to have us be a part of the grand scheme are successful.  Here are two paragraphs from the SWAMPING THE SWAMPS passage.

Turn on a tap. Fill up a glass with water.  Admire this liquid that's been around for billions of years.  Animals have bathed in it.  It's been through the mud.  Maybe it's even sloshed around a toilet bowl at some point.  And we drink that stuff!?

Before you vow never to drink another drop again, remember that people existed in the world for thousands of years before anyone invented water filters.  That's because nature has its own filtration system.  It's called a wetland.

Liberal use of photographs, diagrams and sketches become a part of the layout and design of the text making Every Last Drop:  Bringing Clean Water Home by Michelle Mulder an outstanding nonfiction title.  Every collection will want to have a copy of this pertinent presentation on a timely topic.  Resources, acknowledgments and an extensive index are included at the back of the book.

If you are interested you can learn more about Michelle Mulder and her books by following the link to her website attached to her name.  Here is a link to the publisher's page including other volumes in the series.  There is a document devoted to Common Core Standards Language Arts.

To read about titles selected by bloggers this week participating in the 2015 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge please stop by Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher.


  1. This looks fascinating! Inspired by Linda Sue Park's Long Walk to Water and the proceeds she donates to build wells in Africa, I don't part of my Water Can Be... royalties to WaterAid. It's not much, but every drop counts:>) I'm off to put this on reserve!

    1. I was totally engaged reading it Laura. I also think it would make a great read aloud. I hope you like it as much as I did. And I agree every little bit helps. This made me even more appreciative.