In this bumper double-sized blog, we hear from author Jess French about her latest book and editor Georgia Amson-Bradshaw of Ivy Kids (The Quarto Group), which is due to be relaunched as a ‘sustainable imprint’ in 2021
Our world is entirely reliant on trees. Without trees, the systems that keep the world working as it should would collapse. Trees alter the Earth’s temperature, control rainfall and even produce the oxygen that we breathe. Trees are beautiful, fascinating and vital. When walking in a forest it is impossible not to be wonderstruck by their size, age and strength. People feel happier and calmer after walking through a forest and millions of animals would simply not exist were it not for trees.
In my travels, I have been lucky enough to visit many different forests from all around the globe. I have been to rainforests where the canopy resounds with the deafening calls of howler monkeys. I have been to forests that open onto vast beaches of skulking crocodiles. I have wandered in awe through the ancient kauri forests of New Zealand and learned to make sweet syrup from the maples of Canada. I have fallen in love with trees and forests on every continent that I have visited. But I have also had my heart broken. I have seen destruction happening on a scale that I would not have believed possible without seeing it with my own eyes. I have seen forests decimated, animals left homeless and landscapes scarred forever by deforestation. I have also come to learn that I have a part to play in the destruction of these animals’ homes. That the decisions I make in my everyday life can have a direct effect on forests on the other side of the world.
Forests are under threat. The clock is ticking and if we don’t take collective action soon then forests will disappear and our lives will be irreversibly changed for the worse, forever.
‘Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests’ is a celebration of trees and forests. It explores the different types of forest that exist across the world. It explores the animals and people that make their homes within forests. It explains why trees are so vitally important to life on Earth as we know it. And most importantly, it signposts the best ways to protect and preserve them.
I have written widely about saving the planet but this is my first book to focus on the vital role of trees and why we are so dependent upon them. Trees play an enormous and crucial role in maintaining our planet, so they deserve a book all to themselves. It has been a pleasure to learn more about these plant giants, but it has also been distressing to learn about the true scale of the damage we have already done – and the rate at which we continue to destroy the lungs, heart and soul of the Earth.
Luckily, the passionate young people of our poor damaged Earth fill me with hope. They do not deserve to inherit a planet that has been treated so badly, but I really believe that they will show it more kindness than the generations that have preceded them. And I hope that ‘Let’s Save our Planet: Forests’ will be a guiding light along that path.
The past decade has seen a boom in children’s non-fiction. Book shop shelves are stacked high with beautiful reference titles about nature and animals, showcasing the myriad wonders of this planet that we share.
At the same time, children are more informed than ever of the looming threats to the environment through the accelerating climate and biodiversity crises – and aware too, of the relative inaction of the adults in charge. Four million protestors joined last years’ School Strike for Climate around the world, and three quarters of children surveyed by the BBC are worried about the state of the planet.
The current ‘business as usual’ approach is damaging the very world we rely on to sustain us, and the scale of the crisis we face can seem so enormous it can intimidate us into inaction. But as Greta Thunberg says, no one is too small to make a difference. When we published Greta and the Giants last year on 100% recycled paper and locally printed for each market, we were blown away by the reception, selling 90,000 copies in the English language (and right to translate it into 25 different languages). This autumn, we are publishing Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests by Jess French, a book that explores how crucial healthy forests are to the health of the planet, and what we can do to help protect them, also printed on FSC-certified recycled paper.
This got us to thinking, what if we could do more of our publishing in this way? What if our books didn’t just contain beautiful non-fiction and hopeful stories that inspire readers to protect nature and build a better world – what if more of our books were themselves a part of that positive change?
We are relaunching Ivy Kids in March 2021 with picture book When We Went Wild by best-selling author Isabella Tree. It is inspired by real life examples of rewilding projects, where letting nature take the reins has brought wildlife populations back from decline. In June 2021 we are publishing CBeebies tie-in Let’s Go For a Walk by Ranger Hamza, a non-fiction title that will help little ones connect to nature when out on a walk wherever they live.
The new list will be the most environmentally ambitious publishing project in the UK. All of our new Ivy Kids books will be printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, right here in the UK, on presses powered by renewable energy. Remaining emissions will be calculated and offset through reputable schemes – and we will continue to improve the environmental footprint of our production process as the technology improves.
We hope that this list can prove that a new way of printing and publishing books is possible, and that it will be a seed which grows into a wider change within the publishing industry. Children have shown that they are prepared to march in the streets in their hundreds of thousands in defence of the living world, and the systems that sustain us. We owe it to them to take this step towards greening our industry, to help protect this planet we share, and all the wondrous habitats and marvellous creatures that live upon it.
Let’s Save Our Planet: Forests written by Jess French and illustrated by Alexander Mostov was published 6th October 2020. Visit @FCBGNews for an opportunity to win one of 5 copies of the book.