Reviews for Energy Island : How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World

Booklist Reviews 2011 March #1
*Starred Review* The small Danish island Samsø has received worldwide attention for its "energy independence," achieved by shifting completely from fossil fuels to renewable resources, such as wind power, captured on its shores. The leader of the movement? A grade-school teacher who started his visionary campaign with his students. "Imagine if we really could make enough energy from the sun, and our crops, and even our own legs, to power up the whole island!" In this first title in a planned series of picture books about sustainable energy, Drummond combines winsome, kinetic, ink-and-wash illustrations with a succinct, simply phrased, smoothly flowing narrative that describes how Samsø transformed itself. "Some people had big ideas. Some people had small ones. But all were important in working toward our goal." The frequent sidebars that explain such terms as nonrenewable energy feel aimed at a slightly older audience than the main body of text, and younger children will likely need help grasping references to complex ideas, such as how electricity is captured and sold. Still, through the story of one community, Drummond offers a wholly engaging look at the ways we may produce and use energy in the future while delivering an inspirational challenge: "We're all islanders on the biggest island of them all--planet Earth. So it's up to us to figure out how to save it." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
On Samsx, an island "in the middle of the middle of the sea," the inhabitants decided to "harness the wind" and become as energy-independent as possible. Drummond's vignette illustrations perfectly capture the community spirit as the Danes realize their dream. Helpful sidebar information expands the science introduced in the descriptive first-person narrative. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 February #1
An unidentified local inhabitant describes the process and some of the people responsible for the recent transformation of the Danish island of Samsø to energy self-sufficiency. His chatty narration is accompanied by loosely drawn ink-and-watercolor illustrations emphasizing the island's windy nature. Windmill blades and pinwheels turn, hats blow off and clouds scud. Ranging from vignettes to full-page spreads and series showing the passage of time, these sketches perfectly reflect the story line. For older, more able readers, sidebars add explanations of relevant concepts: nonrenewable and renewable energy, the carbon dioxide problem, global warming, wind and other forms of energy and conservation. Though the focus is wind power, the author mentions other sources and energy-saving activities. In an afterword, he explains he has slightly adjusted the timeline. While he concentrates on the activities of Søren Hermansen, a local teacher who is now leader of the Samsø Energy Academy, he introduces two other early actors. A rough map shows Denmark's general location in the eastern hemisphere but doesn't label the North Sea or show enough of North America to help readers pinpoint the actual location. But the message is clear: An initially unconcerned community banded together and took steps that led to their current fame as a model of environmental action; we other residents of the island that is planet Earth can do that, too. (Informational picture book. 7-10)
Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 January #3

Energy independence may not seem like a gripping topic for a picture book, but Drummond (Tin Lizzie) tells the story of the Danish island of Samsø so engagingly that families may find themselves considering wind turbines for their backyards. Windy Samsø was chosen for a pilot energy independence program by the Danish government. The government's choice doesn't excite the islanders to begin with: " ‘Why us?' said Dorthe Knudsen. ‘Let some other island take on the challenge.' " When a big storm knocks out the island's power cable, and the farmer with a big turbine is the only one whose lights are on, the project suddenly seems a lot more interesting. Drummond uses the island's high winds as a metaphor for the project's excitement with the oft-repeated phrase "Hold on to your hats!" Instead of spreads, the pages are broken up with many small spot illustrations (Drummond's loopy, sweetly tinted drawings make even immense wind turbines seem adorable); more extensive information about wind power appears in (appropriately) green sidebars. His honesty about the project's glitches makes the triumphant conclusion all the more resounding. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 March

Gr 2-6--This account of how the residents of a Danish island made large and small changes to switch to renewable energy sources puts names and faces to processes described in more conventional discussions of alternative energy. Before the transformation, Samsø's most remarkable feature was its continual winds. A determined teacher spent several years trying to convince residents to create their own energy sources to break their dependence on energy generated on the mainland. Two residents eventually agreed to proceed with wind-turbine projects. When a fierce winter storm disrupted the usual electrical transmission, the only source of power on the island came from one of the wind turbines. Once the citizens became convinced of the potential benefits of energy independence, the projects multiplied: solar panels, biomass furnaces, electric cars, and bicycles. Now people from around the world come to Samsø to learn about ways to harness renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions. Informative sidebars supply information on global warming, renewable and nonrenewable energy, and conservation. What is most remarkable about this island, though, is how ordinary people achieved an extraordinary 140 percent reduction in carbon emissions in just 10 years. The illustrations further personalize the story with energy of their own as they bring Samsø and its residents to life. A fine choice for most libraries, even those with a number of more conventional introductions to alternate energy sources.--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

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