Far too few books for children offer guinea pigs as main characters. That’s why I was delighted to discover Nibbles: A Green Tale by Charlotte Middleton in the Growing Good Kids award list. It wraps an educational message about supply/demand, and sustainability with a simple tale of one of these gentle, lovable creatures.
As as child the author had guinea pigs as pets, and her experience shows clearly. In the story, Nibbles the guinea pig loves to eat dandelion leaves. So do all the other guinea pigs in Dandeville. In fact, so many guinea pigs eat so very many dandelion leaves that the plants became scarce and very expensive. There are so few dandelions left that guinea pigs are forced to eat cabbage. Fortunately, Nibbles has a plan to save the day.
Charlotte Middleton is an illustrator and her mixed-media collages are full of texture and whimsy. In one illustration of a cabbage she uses a photograph of a cabbage, surrounded by fabric print leaves and cartoon bugs. The background is corrugated cardboard with photographs of soil. It all adds up to illustrations that are intriguing. Each one takes time to explore and talk about.
You can take this book in a lot of directions. Besides lessons in sustainability and the importance of gardening, you can also use it to talk about plant life cycles, using books/libraries as resources, a jumping off point for a conversation about greed, or the basis for an art project. You could also do hands-on activities with your pet guinea pig.
Zoe at Playing by The Book noticed that this title was published in the United Kingdom under the title Christopher Nibble. Go take a look at her fabulous review, which contains lovely photographs, directions for crafting a dandelion meadow, and many useful links for accompanying activities.
Truly, Nibbles: A Green Tale is a picture book to relish.
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
School & Library Binding: 26 pages
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Corp/Ccb; 1 edition (April 2010)
Be sure to look for more information about children’s books at today’s Book Talk Tuesday.