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Children's Nonfiction Environmental Science & Ecosystems

You Are the Earth

Know Your World So You Can Help Make It Better

by (author) David Suzuki & Kathy Vanderlinden

illustrated by Wallace Edwards

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2010
Environmental Science & Ecosystems
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 12
  • Grade: k to 7


This lively collection of fascinating facts and fables, colorful cartoons, and dynamic illustrations explains how everything on Earth is connected. Since its original publication, concern for the environment has grown, and although environmental damage has increased, so too have "green" strategies. This new edition reflects these changes, with expanded discussion of environmental issues and new technologies, as well as many more activities. New sidebars offer extra facts, tips, and real-life examples of things other budding ecologists have done to make the world a better place.

About the authors

Dr. David Suzuki has made it his life's work to help humanity understand, appreciate, respect and protect nature. A scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, he is a gifted interpreter of science and nature who provides audiences with a compelling look at the state of our environment, underscoring both the successes we have achieved in the battle for environmental sustainability, and the strides we still have to make. Both inspiring and realistic, he offers leading-edge insights into sustainable development and model for a world in which humanity can live well and still protect our environment.

He is familiar to television audiences as host of the CBC science and natural history television series The Nature of Things, and to radio audiences as the original host of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks, as well as the acclaimed series It's a Matter of Survival and From Naked Ape to Superspecies. David was the recipient of The Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television's 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

An award-winning writer and former faculty member of Harvard University, Tara Cullis has been a key player in environmental movements in the Amazon, Southeast Asia, Japan and British Columbia.

She was a founder of the Turning Point Initiative, now known as the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative. This brought First Nations of British Columbia’s central and northern coasts into a historic alliance, protecting the ecology of the region known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

In 1990 Dr. Tara Cullis co-founded, with Dr. David Suzuki, the David Suzuki Foundation to “collaborate with Canadians from all walks of life including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.” Tara founded or co-founded nine other organizations before co-founding the David Suzuki Foundation.

Tara has been adopted and named by Haida, Gitga’at, Heiltsuk, and Nam’gis First Nations.

Miriam Fernandes is a Toronto-based artist who has worked as an actor, director, and theatre-maker around the world. Recent directing and creation credits include Hayavadana (Soulpepper Theatre), Nesen, (MiniMidiMaxi Festival, Norway) The First Time I Saw the Sea (YVA Company, Norway). She is currently is co-writing/adapting for the stage the ancient epic, Mahabharata (Why Not Theatre/Shaw Festival), is developing a Deaf/hearing production of Lady Macbeth (in partnership with 1S1 Collective), and is the co-writer of What You Won’t Do for Love with Drs. David Suzuki and Tara Cullis. Miriam is the recipient of the JBC Watkins Award and was nominated for the inaugural Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize. She is also the co-artistic director of Why Not Theatre and has trained with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company, and is a graduate of École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

Toronto-based stage director Ravi Jain is a multi-award-winning artist known for making politically bold and accessible theatrical experiences in both small indie productions and large theatres. As the founding artistic director of Why Not Theatre, Ravi has established himself as an artistic leader for his inventive productions, international producing/collaborations and innovative producing models which are aimed to better support emerging artists to make money from their art.

Ravi was twice shortlisted for the 2016 and 2019 Siminovitch Prize and won the 2012 Pauline McGibbon Award for Emerging Director and the 2016 Canada Council John Hirsch Prize for direction. He is a graduate of the two-year program at École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. He was selected to be on the roster of clowns for Cirque du Soleiiel. Currently, Sea Sick, which he co-directed, will be on at the National Theatre in London, his adaptation of The Indian epic Mahabarata will premier at the Shaw Festival, and What You Won’t Do For Love, starring David Suzuki will premier in 2021.

David Suzuki's profile page


Kathy Vanderlinden is the author or coauthor of four previous children's books, including Eco-Fun (also written with David Suzuki). She edited Transformed, which won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction in 2006. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.


Kathy Vanderlinden's profile page


WALLACE EDWARDS, diplômé de l’Université de l’École d’art et de design de l’Ontario, est un auteur-illustrateur primé. Ses peintures et ses illustrations se retrouvent dans des collections privées et publiques, des livres, des magazines et des expositions au Canada et aux États-Unis. Son premier livre jeunesse, Alphabeasts, a remporté le Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général en 2002. Depuis, il continue à recevoir des nominations et des récompenses prestigieuses soulignant son approche géniale des albums illustrés. Il habite à Yarker, en Ontario.



WALLACE EDWARDS is a graduate of OCA whose picture books have been nominated for three Governor General's Literary Awards; he won the award for Alphabeasts. Other honours include the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, two Independent Publisher Book Awards, a Canadian Toy Testing Council Great Book Award, a CLA Honour Book and two OLA Best Bets, among many others; and his work has also been added to the International Youth Library White Ravens list.


Wallace Edwards' profile page

Excerpt: You Are the Earth: Know Your World So You Can Help Make It Better (by (author) David Suzuki & Kathy Vanderlinden; illustrated by Wallace Edwards)

From Chapter 1
Walking on Air
You probably don’t think much about air. You can’t see it, or hear it, or grab a handful of it. It’s almost as if it weren’t there. And yet it’s just about the most precious thing in the world.

Try holding your breath for five minutes. Can you do it? Of course not. Your body won’t let you. You can try to hold your breath until your face turns red and purple, but the muscles in your lungs and chest will soon force you to breathe. That’s how much your body needs air.

From your first breath to your last, you must have air. If you didn’t have air for just five or six minutes, you would die. All of us Earthlings—people, animals, and plants—need air to live. And the amazing thing is, not only does air keep us alive, it also ties us together. It’s as if we were all swimming in an “air soup.” when you breathe out, atoms—tiny, invisible particles—of air fly out of your nose and go right up the noses of all the people near you!

You’re Breathing Dinosaur Breath
Did you know that the next breath you take will contain dinosaur breath? It sounds weird, but it’s true. Here’s how it works. Air is really a mixture of several gases. A gas is a light, invisible substance that floats freely in the air—steam, for example. Two of these gases, nitrogen and oxygen, make up almost all of the air.

There is only a small amount of the gas argon in the air. Yet each breath you breathe out, or exhale, contains about 30,000,000,000,000,000,000 (you can call that 30 zillion) atoms of argon. In a few minutes, the atoms you’ve exhaled in that one breath will travel right through your neighborhood. In a year, they will have spread all around the Earth, and about 15 of them will be right back where they started—in your nose.

Argon is always in you and around you. And not just in you but also in your best friend, your favorite pop star, the birds, snakes, flowers, trees, and worms. All of us air breathers are sharing in that same “pool” of argon atoms.
So here’s where the dinosaurs come in. An interesting thing about argon atoms is that they never change or die—they stay around forever. That means that thousands of years ago, an Egyptian slave building the pyramids breathed some of the same argon atoms that later Joan of Arc, Napoleon, and Napoleon’s horse breathed. And some of those were argon atoms exhaled by dinosaurs that lived 70 million years ago. They all breathed out argon atoms into the air—ready for you to breathe in as you read this sentence. And when you exhale your next 30 zillion argon atoms, some of them will one day find their way into the noses of babies not yet born.

What’s true of argon is true of air in general. Air joins together all of Earth’s creatures—past, present, and future.

From Chapter 8
It’s Your World Now
You will spend most of your life in the 21st century. This is your world, and it’s a wonderful world—but it has some problems. Global warming, pollution, habitat destruction, energy shortages—these are big challenges that require big efforts from nations working together. But smaller actions by individuals and groups—if there are enough of them—can be very powerful, too. Each one of us can do something to help.
“But I’m just a kid—I can’t save the world”
Young people often know more about what’s happening to the environment than adults do. And many of them are working hard to change things. The following stories are just a few examples to show what kids and teenagers can do.

The Idle-Free Girls
Katelyn Morran, Rachel Perrella, Neely Swanson, and Destiny Gulewich are grade 7 students at Stonewall Centennial School in Stonewall, Manitoba. The girls have spread their idle-free message throughout their town and in Winnipeg and the surrounding area.

It all started when we studied weather and climate change in grade 5 and we became concerned about global warming. We decided to choose a project that could have a big impact on the environment, so we started an anti-idling campaign.

Our goal was to make our community idle free, where people would not idle their vehicles for more than 10 seconds. We wanted to educate youth and adults about the harmful effects to our environment and our health caused by leaving a car’s motor running when you are not driving it. Idling not only adds to global warming but it wastes fuel and pollutes the air, which can cause asthma and other health problems. We created student and public awareness through presentations, media events, the Internet, displays, pamphlets, and Idle-Free Zone signs. Soon after making our presentations to the town council, Idle-Free signs were put up all around town, and we became known as the “Idle-Free Girls.” The support for our campaign has been incredible. People are always telling us they notice there is a lot less idling in town now.

We continue to learn more about climate change through research and by attending climate change events and communicating with experts in the field. Kids can make a difference. We can all help the environment by riding our bikes to sporting events, walking to school, or car pooling to work to reduce car emissions. Remember, every bit counts!

EcoTeam Works for Greener Schools
Alison Lee was a grade 10 student at Marc Garneau C.I. in Toronto, Ontario, when she started the EcoTeam club to raise environmental awareness at her school.

In our first year, we had only 10 members in a school of 2000. We started by taking a survey of students’ carbon footprints—how much energy they were using. We then made sure each class had a recycling bin and trays to stack paper for re-use. To reduce litter and promote school pride, we painted colorful designs on the hallway garbage bins.

The next year we had 30 members, and we added a “Lights Off” monitoring program to make sure lights were turned off when not in use. We also hosted an open house for secondary school groups interested in starting an environmental team. And we put on a Green Screens film festival of short environmental films created by students.

Another project we started was an annual student cleanup of Toronto parks. We met regularly with students from five other schools to plan it out. There were four cleanup events around the city for Earth Week 2008. The cleanup by my EcoTeam happened at Sunnybrook Park and attracted students from three other schools. Local schools working together to improve our community was a great example of city-wide teamwork!

This year, our third year, we have 50 members. I have encouraged many
smaller groups to form and take on more projects, which has broadened our impact. I am also part of a city environmental council. We tackle environmental issues in secondary schools on a larger scale. We work with the people who provide resources and services for Toronto schools to develop more sustainable habits that increasingly reflect what students want.

Editorial Reviews

"From a less visionary thinker, such a broad range of subjects might be a confusing tangle, but Suzuki's accessible text, illustrated with useful diagrams and attractive paintings of plants and animals, skillfully emphasizes his basic message about the vital importance of interconnections." —Booklist

" outstanding title that can be utilized by teachers in science, health, and environmental studies classes or as a fun, inspiring read."—School Library Journal, starred review

“Incorporating content that varies from scientific to the personal to cultural—with folk tales juxtaposed next to scientific evidence—the book entices one to keep reading just to see what is on the next page.”Science Magazine

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