Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

In Sixty Minutes

It began in the most populated city on the continent of Australia thirteen years ago.  It was a single event lasting sixty minutes.  It was an act of faith in people and hope for our planet by its organizers. One year later countries on all seven continents participated.  By 2009 it broke

all records of mass participation, becoming the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment.

This year, 2020, Earth Hour will be celebrated on March 28th, 8:30 PM local time, wherever you live.  Debut picture book author Nanette Heffernan and debut picture book illustrator Bao Luu collaborate to bring readers Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet (Charlesbridge, January 21, 2020).  It reflects the use of energy in places around the world, the Earth Hour event and how each individual can contribute to the conservation of energy not only on this one day, but on every day of the year.

All over the world, millions of people use energy, every day, every night.

With energy we keep the temperature in our homes comfortable.  With energy we prepare meals.  With energy places of historical significance are illuminated for visitors to enjoy.

For those living in northernmost climates, light through energy cuts through the prolonged darkness providing solace.  Have you ever stopped to wonder about the energy necessary to clean our clothing, food and homes?  And, what does it takes for us to be able to shower or bathe?

Our energy comes from our planet.  Earth is our provider.  Earth Hour is a way to show our appreciation.  It's a unified thank you.

Around the world hour by hour, entire cities and their points of interest turn off their lights.  Is this one hour per year all we need to do?  We, every single individual, need to conserve our energy every hour of every day.  This is how we make a difference.

In sixteen sentences, carefully placed for pacing, author Nanette Heffernan connects participation in activities by people around the world.  She relates these moments specifically in order to engage more readers.  She uses literary devices to convey these personal portraits.  Her words connect us as does the event.  Here are two sentences.

It cooks the dumpling soup
we ladle into bowls.

Energy washes the fun and games from our clothes.

When you first gaze at the open and matching dust jacket and book case, you are immediately struck by the vivid contrast between the hues of blue and green and the glow of light from candles, lanterns and stars.  Readers will next notice people from diverse cultures, ethnic groups and families represented.  (Careful readers will notice many of them again within the pages of this book.)  The title text is raised to the touch.  One of the candles is also raised to stress the importance of each individual.

On the back another image of our planet is shown in a partial circle with a starry sky above it.  Words in the upper, left-hand corner read:

During Earth Hour, in every
time zone across the world,
lights fade to black.

A dark rich purple, like a velvet sky, covers the opening and closing endpapers.  On the title page a smaller version of an interior image, a little boy turning off a wall switch, is shown.

Each illustration rendered

using Adobe Photoshop on a Wacom Cintiq

by Bao Luu elevates the text supplying representative images.  For the first sentence noted above, we are shown a double-page picture with seven separate vignettes layered over portions of a starry sky and global networks of lights as seen from above.  With subsequent page turns single-page pictures take us to a family in Australia near the Sydney Opera House, a family having dinner with the Great Wall of China in the distance or a group of scientists at a station in one of the polar regions.  In most of these Bao Luu includes a distinctive icon of the area; the Great Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower or the Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

Readers will notice that each of the scenes prior to the Earth Hour are revisited as the lights go off.  He shifts the viewpoints of the people in all of them.  This is a wonderful representation, a circle effect.  For the final two-page illustration all these people gather in the darkness with their candles and lanterns.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is for the words

Energy washes the fun and games from our clothes.

This double-page visual by Bao Luu shows a large patio area or perhaps a roof between two homes.  On either side are homes with windows glowing in lamp light, people leaning out those windows.  Children are playing a game of soccer on the large area as a dog watches and trots down some steps.  A white cat and a black cat watch the city and the people below them.  Laundry hangs from three different lines stretched from poles.  In the background city lights and lights from homes move up a mountainous landscape.  At the top is the Christ the Redeemer statue glowing white against the darkness.  The sky is blanketed with stars on a moonless night.

This timely title, Earth Hour: A Lights-Out Event for Our Planet written by Nanette Heffernan with illustrations by Bao Luu, is a valuable addition to both your personal and professional collections. The back matter includes information about Earth Hour, its importance and an author's note.  You'll want to read the dedications on the last page also.

To learn more about Nanette Heffernan and Bao Luu and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to take you to their respective websites.  Nanette Heffernan has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Bao Luu has an account on Instagram.  Nanette Heffernan has a guest post on Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries John Schumacher's site, Watch. Connect. Read., to premiere her book trailer.  Nanette Heffernan is interviewed at Katelyn Aronson's site and KidLit 411.  At the publisher's website and Penguin Random House Canada, you can view interior images.  Be sure to visit the Earth Hour website linked above for more information.  On this page at their site, you can get reports of the events from 2014 through 2019.  The first video embedded here was uploaded by the City of Sydney in August of 2007 after Earth Hour.  The quality is a bit fuzzy, but the message is valuable.  The second video is the official one for 2020.  In 2014 Spider Man became the Superhero Ambassador for Earth Hour.  If you've seen this movie, you know it revolves around electricity.

Take a few moments to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to see what titles have been chose this week by others participating in the 2020 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.


  1. New book, new celebration, right? The book looks wonderful & I loved each video you shared, Margie! Thanks!

  2. I've read about this book elsewhere. So glad it's getting exposure. I am intrigued and have added it to my hold list. AND I plan to participate (with my family)this year. Thanks for featuring!

  3. I just learned about Earth Hour a few weeks ago and I had this book on my TBR! I can't wait to read it after reading your review. Thanks for sharing all this great info!

  4. I just picked this one up from the library!