“A Thoughtful way of explaining conservation to children” by Robert Ingpen

Despite being published over 30 years ago (in 1987) this book on conservation is probably more relevant today than ever before. Its simple texts made accessible to children (co-authored by Robert Ingpen and Margaret Dunkle) and striking illustrations by Ingpen explore ways of keeping the world “sound, safe and sensible”.

Ingpen Conservation Title

Here are a few spreads from the book, showing how words accompanied by Ingpen’s masterfully designed illustrations communicate powerful messages on the world’s conservation needs in ways that children can understand and relate to with ease.

The illustration below called “Dodo bird first seen 1599, last seen 1681” accompanies the text on wild life protection. Its last statement concludes that “sometimes we make the wrong choice, or leave our choice too long and we lose something forever”…

Conservation Ingpen 2

The following picture called “Chemical warfare on pests” is a cleverly designed and I believe self-explanatory image (hat off to the aptness of Ingpen’s visual messages!)

Conservation Ingpen 1

St. George fighting the dragon below is an allegory of “having to make [conservation] choices: decisions between right and wrong, good and bad”.  The traditional image of the saint, as if transposed from an ancient icon painting, is juxtaposed with the modern-day airplane charging forward, symbolising past, present and future and the all-time relevance of conservation concerns.

Conservation Ingpen 3

The following picture is called “New butterfly and old instrument of navigation”…This one might potentially leave little readers (and older ones too) pondering the ideas it is meant to convey. My clue to reading this image was this: “The best of everything is always there if we know how to look for it”…  Readers are asked to think about what is important and worth preserving, whether it is “very old or very new, strangely complex or deceptively simple”.

Conservation 4

There are fourteen more spreads in this book exploring threats to humpback whales, benefits and dangers of nuclear power, the need for heritage conservation, preservation of wilderness and living resources and more. It ends with reproductions of several posters that Ingpen created for National Conservation Strategy of Australia, each focusing on an environmental area in need of protection: forests, wildlife, national parks, coastal dunes, mangroves, rivers. The last poster on alternative energy sources notes that “nature’s energy cannot be lost and the sun and winds and tides are always with us”…

Our children will evidently inherit the Earth, whose environmental well-being is seriously shaken. It would be up to them to continue our conservation efforts to save it for generations to come. That’s why I believe books like this one will stay relevant and be good to read to every child, read often and from a young age.

To read more about Robert Ingpen and to see more of his fabulous books click here.

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