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Children's Nonfiction General


Shining a light on sustainable energy

by (author) Michelle Mulder

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2015
General, Environmental Conservation & Protection, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2013
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Did you know that cars can run on french-fry grease or that human poop can be used to provide power to classrooms?

Brilliant! is about what happens when you harness the power of imagination and innovation: the world changes for the better! Kids in Mexico help light up their houses by playing soccer, and in the Philippines, pop-bottle skylights are improving the quality of life for thousands of families. Full of examples of unusual (and often peculiar) power sources, Brilliant! encourages kids to look around for new and sustainable ways to light up the world.

About the author

Michelle is the author of several books for children, and she enjoys telling the stories of kids who seize life's opportunities. When growing up in Port Moody, British Columbia, her favourite spot was the library. She loved cracking open the cover of a novel, taking a deep breath, and jumping into another life.

At university, Michelle studied literature, and between courses, she helped dig a water pipeline in the Dominican Republic and flipped burgers for a summer at a McDonald's in Germany. After graduating, she cycled 6000 kilometres across Canada, became a travel writer, taught creative writing in the Arctic, and worked as a simulated patient for medical students to practice on. She also married the pen pal that she'd been writing to since she was fourteen years old, and together they traveled around his home country of Argentina.

Michelle began writing for kids because she's always loved reading children's books. These days, when she's not writing or going on adventures, she enjoys reading, swimming, baking, hiking, and pedaling her bicycle around Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and daughter. For more information about Michelle and her books, please visit her website at


Michelle Mulder's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Long-listed, Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable Information Book Award
  • Long-listed, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada's Information Book Award nominee
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
  • Commended, Resource Links, The Year's Best Books

Editorial Reviews

"A book that combines history and science to teach children about sustainable sources of energy...Lots of pictures and personal vignettes lighten up its tone and deliver a powerful message: finding new, sustainable ways to harness energy is not only possible but can be incredibly fun...Mulder’s passion for sustainability is contagious and this is a good book to have a conversation with your children about ways to change the world."

Eco Parent Magazine

"Environmental problems are treated as exciting opportunities for ingenuity, rather than a scary future menace. Geothermal heat, wind, hydroelectric power, and the sun are all discussed as potential alternate sources of energy, but biofuel is given the most attention. More cutting-edge approaches, such as burning human waste or creating energy through play, encourage kids to look for solutions in unexpected places."


"A great addition to an elementary library as an excellent resource for students learning about sustainable energy sources."

Resource Links

"Mulder investigates our energy dependence and explains other environmentally friendly possibilities in a fun, exciting, and optimistic manner...Clear language and catchy wordplay in the sub-headings help make the science behind energy accessible...[Mulder's] passion for environmentalism is obvious and her enthusiasm contagious. Brilliant! will spark the interest of many future innovators who can and will change the world."

Quill & Quire

"An upbeat exploration of the often-curious world of alternative energy...The book is peppered with exotic photographs, as well as quick-shooting boxed items, to catch the attention of busy eyes. A smart, welcoming introduction to alternative fuels, one that puts the greater world in readers’ hands."

Kirkus Reviews

"These are books that should be in classrooms everywhere. They are brilliantly designed and truly informative for children wanting to know more about the footprints we leave in our world...As has been the case with the previous books in this series, the illustrations and clear photographs give essential meaning to the text. The 'Power Lines' and 'Energy Facts' boxes add personal observations and humor, as well as much needed information. Get it for your classroom, your library, or your home to provide food for thought and action! Put on your own thinking cap, and try to visualize new ways to improve life on our planet."

Sal's Fiction Addiction blog

"Brilliant! takes not only a tour around the world, but a journey through time…This book is accessible to all students and, more importantly, everyone can find themselves represented in some way. The diversity of ideas and uses being presented will open the eyes of any reader and challenge them to think differently about every single resource they use and the endless possibilities of what may come. Enjoy the journey!"

ETFO Voice

"Mulder presents an objective, positive approach to teaching young people about traditional, non-renewable sources of energy, and also about looking for alternative sources of renewable energy, sometimes in unexpected places...An excellent choice for introducing children to the variety of energy sources available today and to the complexities of the energy discussion."

Library Media Connection

"A high interest book dealing with the topic of alternative sustainable energy sources. The information is all presented in an easy to read narrative format."

Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group

"Teeming with creative innovations from around the globe...The illustrations and colour photos enhance the text, and the ‘Energy Facts’ and ‘Power Lines’ sections fill the spaces and create more energy themselves!...An informative, entertaining and electrifying addition to the Orca Footprints series. This energetic book is a must-have for any school library. Highly Recommended."

CM Magazine

"A terrific informational book for students to learn about sustainable energy sources in the world. It has beautiful photographs and is packed with information that students can learn. It will also help students learn about other parts of the world that they may not know about as it is a book about global energy. Wonderful book. Highly Recommended."

Tucson Unified School District

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