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Nature, Environmental Care, and Friendships in Best-Selling Novel for Young Readers

Updated on June 4, 2020
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Environmental Care and Friendships in Fun Read for Nature Lovers

Fun read and some lessons in environmental care for young readers
Fun read and some lessons in environmental care for young readers | Source

Nature, Environmental Care, and Friends Working Together in Fun Read

Hello From Renn Lake by best-selling author Michele Weber Hurwitz, is a great choice for summer reading. Young readers have studied water ecology in many science classes and this fun read addresses the issues of saving our water sources along with some lessons in friendship and the underlying subject of adoption.

Annalise is spending the summer with her parents at her favorite place, Renn Lake. Her parents take care of the rental cottages and Annalise always enjoys spending the summers taking care of the guests who come to rent summer cottages. She loves Renn Lake and the discovery of a green slimy algae that is present in the lake this summer gets her immediate attention. Annalise is fascinated by this disgusting and thick algae and she realizes that it is certainly killing the fish and the lake. She is determined to save the fish and her beloved Renn Lake. Her cousin refers to the area where they find the dead fish as a "dead zone." Zach remembers studying about algae in a science class. This particular algae bloom is different in size. It is actually very small. This will become a sumer project to discover the origins of the algae bloom and to save Renn Lake.

Annalise shares her memories of Renn Lake from the time she was three years old throughout the story. She was adopted by her parents as a baby and her memories of being adopted also run through the story.

Hurtwitz writes with an interesting perspective on Renn Lake as a person. Renn speaks in the first-person throughout the story. Renn is listening to the people as they discuss the sticky green algae and these words come from Renn: "Terrible words are hovering, hanging by their necks in the air above me. They drop down and stick to me, like the algae. I hear Annalise call. I try, but I am unable to answer." Young readers will find this to be a page-turner as they read to find out if Annalise, her cousin, and friends are able to save the lake.

The key to the slimy algae are the roots of the big trees. Hurtwitz makes the creative connection of roots in nature to roots that anchor families and Annalise's adoption.

Hello From Renn Lake was published by Wendy Lamb Books and is recommended for ages 8-12. It has an ISBN of 9781984896322.

Bring Renn Lake Into Both English and Science Classes

Both English teachers and science teachers will want to add Michele Hurwitz's Hello From Renn Lake to their class library. English teachers have the opportunity to assign some creative writing projects after reading and science teachers will have the opportunity to develop science projects for studying water, our environmental issues with our water systems, and how algae blooms affect our water and the fish that inhabit the lakes.

*Read Hello From Renn Lake as a class with several chapters read each day. Call attention to Hurwitz's unique way of presenting Lake Renn as a person throughout the story. Introduce the term "personification" as a wrting term.

*Create a writing assignment for students to write about a body of water that they are familiar with and give this body of water the traits of a person. Annalise listens to her beloved lake and believes that the lake talks to her about the problems that the algae has created for it. Students can imagine talking to a body of water. what would the water say to them about caring for our environment?

*Science teachers have the opportunity to introduce the idea of algae and how it affects our water. Have pictures of a variety of algae blooms available for students to learn about. How is the algae affecting Lake Renn?

*Assign research projects to learn about the variety of algae that can be present in our water environments. Are there any good forms of algae that can benefit our water environments?

*Introduce the science vocabulary words from the story. "Toxic" and "toxins", "cyanobacteria", "planktonic blue-green algae, and "vial" are some of the new words that Annalise learns while discovering the facts about this green sticky algae that is trying to kill her beloved Lake Renn.

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© 2020 Cindy Hewitt

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