“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Friday, June 5, 2009

Connected Wisdom: Living Stories About Living Systems • Anthology

Connected Wisdom: Living Stories About Living Systems
by Linda Booth Sweeney • illustrated by Guy Billout
designed by Milton Glaser
Just out! published by SEED • distributed by Chelsea Green
The ancients understood sustainability -- a new illustrated book reveals the lessons of living systems through folktales.Connected Wisdom gathers twelve stories from different cultures that each reveal a unique example of a living system and an approach to problem solving that focuses on interconnections, rather than on parts in isolation. A Balinese folktale tells the story of a gecko who cannot sleep because of the sparks from a firefly. He traces the cause of his complaint from one animal to another to the mosquitoes he depends on for his survival. Like this gecko, young readers will understand that all life is inter-related, and will be able to grasp the concept of the living system of "interdependence." In a Burmese folktale, a king spills a drop of honey on his windowsill, too little to bother cleaning up. Yet the drop draws a fly, which attracts a lizard, which is followed by a cat, then a dog, and the owners of the cat and the dog, each armed with a stick. When civil war erupts, the king and readers understand the living system of "linearity," in which an effect is disproportionate to its cause.

Says author Linda Booth Sweeney, "If kids understand living systems, they're more likely to think and act in informed ways and less likely to jump to blame a single cause for the challenges they encounter. As kids appreciate and learn about living systems, they see that connections in nature, people, problems and events bind us all."

"The moment you touch and open this book, its wisdom is evident. This is the wisdom of wholes, of belonging, and connecting the dots to see the richer tapestry of life." —Raffi, singer and author

"Wow! I love how [Linda Booth Sweeney] talks about each concept and uses the folktales to illustrate/expand. The book could easily be used as the basis for a curriculum on the interconnected-ness of our world (in a variety of content areas from science to social studies)--the concepts can be talked about and applied at so many different levels. I feel like it could be adapted and used in the whole range of grade levels--kindergarten through high school."
—Rachel Rosner, Professional Educator

"Beautiful…The writing so seamlessly tied together [the author's] ecological concepts with the stories … chosen. And such handsome bookmaking! I am doing a keynote on tales of kindness for the National Storytelling Network Conference in Hawaii and will add this to my bibliography."
—Margaret Read MacDonald, Author and storyteller

Read an article about systems learning and the why and how of teaching it to children in Solutions magazine.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.


Julia Pitau said...

Connected Wisdom, written by Linda Booth Sweeney, Ed.D., is a cleverly written “prescience” book where each chapter is entwined with a fable or folklore to help students understand the concept. My biggest concern is the mentioning of Allah, in some of the chapters, and how students and parents will respond, even though religion is not being taught. As for the illustrations, they are all beautifully done. However, I did have trouble seeing the correlation of the pictures to the story/lesson in a couple of the chapters. I think this book could be used at a middle-school level as an introduction into a deeper study of the concept. I do not see students picking this book up on their own to read for pleasure.

Picnic Rating: 3

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Pat Kramer said...

I found Connected Wisdom to be an exemplary book which connects fables (stories that teach) with science. As a third grade teacher in a Christian school, I will use this to introduce the "Big Ideas" (state standards) in science.

The purpose of this book is to teach students that living systems are dependent upon each other and this book achieves that goal. The laws of nature have never been introduced as well. Children learn best through stories. The science objective is then easier to teach. (In addition the student learns about different cultures and about the genre of fables and folklore.)

I have no concern with the mentioning of Allah as I teach my students that there are different views in the world and the fables are STORIES. (Even in a public school setting, I would emphasize that these are STORIES from a different culture.)

I will use this book as a springboard to my lessons in life science with third grade students. I'm sure that my colleagues will also want a copy.

In the upper elementary setting (and possibly middle school), this book is best used as a teacher resource. I would rate it as a 5/5 picnic.

Pat Kramer
Palm Harbor, FL

Laura _SPED Teacher said...

Connected Wisdom, written by Linda Booth Sweeney, Ed.D., was a great book. I love how it connects Science with folklore. It is a little concerning that Allah is mentioned. I'm not sure that would go over well in my room, as many parents and some students might raise concern. However, overall it was a great way to teach children the inter connected nature of living systems!

K.Deeb, Sarasota Florida said...

Connected Wisdon, written by Linda Booth Sweeney, Ed.D, I think the upper grades would understand and enjoy this book. Letting the students think "deep" after reading this book. I give it a rating picnic score of a 4...

Mrs. Horne said...

After putting this anthology down I immediately called a good friend who teaches science and told her I had the perfect book for her to use in her class. I loved the idea of using a fable and folklore to explain the concepts in this work.

This is definitely a "teacher-friendly" book and not so much a book that students would go over to the shelves and pick up to read. What an interesting twist on science concepts though!

I give this a 4/5.

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Sarah O. said...

A great book! It helps to teach fundamental concepts of environmental science such as biodiversity, the commons, and cycles, and uses folklore to illustrate each concept. It's also beautifully illustrated.

Picnic basket rating of 5 out of 5.

Sarah Oyerinde
Marion, Indiana

Mrs. Rose said...

Although I have notyet had the chance to use this book, I would rate it a 3/5 for Picnic Basket simply based on approachability. As a 5th grade teacher, I see myself using it as a frontloading tool to launch science and/or social studies discussions. The book requires deep thinking, and I feel this is a lost art for many. I am looking forward to my students' responses.