Must Read Books for Young Explorers

07/03/19 | By Michael Strelow

Some years ago, I wrote an article titled, “The Logic of Wildflowers.” The idea was that wild flowers had a logic (color, size, aroma, leaf) that derived biologically out of where they were: altitude, temperature, latitude and longitude—in short, where their particular genetic stuff flourished. And that people, peripatetic and mobile in search of adventure or a living and excitement, had lost that sense of place. And lost with it was an identity, a sense of belonging to that slant of sunlight, that particular on-shore wind, that warm evening smell at the beginning of summer. What do we lose when we lose a wildflower’s sense of belonging?

Our Street and Lodestone Books has a number of answers, answers that plants and the natural world have given authors and then the authors have woven them into their stories. For example, Sue Palmer’s upcoming book, May’s Moon: Fortis Mission leaves the earth for the moon and encounters a new level of displacement. Avery Moray’s Grimworld asks ghost-adventure questions about where the natural world ends and the supernatural begins. My own new book, Jake’s Book (Book three of a three-part series: The Princess Gardner, The Alyssa Chronicle and Jake’s Book) keeps asking the questions about how we fit into the plant and animal world. Jake has found a unique way in, while his two “sisters” have found their own ways to engage in the world–not easy for either one. By the way, The Princess Gardener is available as an eBook for 99 cents until the end of March so you can begin the adventures economically!

World Plant Power Day, March 7th, seems to me the most ecumenical of days. We belong to the soil like we belong to the wind storms and lightning around us. And plants tell us how to live (bring in the parade of authors like Thoreau, Rousseau, John Burroughs, Annie Dillard, et al) and how to read our place in the natural world. Watch any plant (your favorite flower, for example) for a full year and begin the conversation. Plants talk to us in new green shoots, full flowered glory and browning leaf that says “yes” to the coming chill of winter.

#PlantPowerDay was new to me. But in some sense, every book I’ve written has circled back unashamedly to the natural world to locate characters that were sometimes lost in the seeming illusions of our concocted world. The soil grounds us and the earth answers (sometimes before we have even had the chance to fully formulate the question.)


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