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Book Review - Defender of Dirt


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    I read the book "Defender of Dirt" by Ruth Ann Smalley. In this book, Squirrel and her brother Sam move to a new neighborhood where their world gets turned around by mysterious beehives, chickens and a nasty feud that's trying to get rid of Mae's garden!

     There are a lot of interesting characters in this book and they all have their own unique characteristics. Squirrel, the main character, is very inquisitive and always asks a lot of questions. Sam, Squirrels little brother, is a very out loud person, he always seems to be shouting out things when he has something to say. Mr. Remington, Squirrel and Sam's Dad, is very supportive when the kids have an idea to help out the neighborhood. Mae, their neighbor, who's about Squirrels age, is very smart, she knows so much about nature and is a very peaceful person. Then there's the Franklin kids, Tessa and Sydney, they are so sneaky. They think having chickens is against the law and will do anything to get rid of them!

      I don't want to give away the story, which is interesting, I want to tell you the things I learned about nature and why I'm recommending this book.

   Being an outdoorsy type of person, I have learned so many new things about nature! When I hear the word organic, I think of the word fresh or natural. I learned that it actually means something with no artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides. So its better if you buy organic fruits or vegetables, because there is no harsh chemicals on your food. But if you buy food thats not organic, its important to wash it thoroughly, before you eat it.

       When someone mentions anything about bees, I think of stingers, those fuzzy little things, and honey. Yes, I guess that's true but I learned a boat load of things about bees! Did you know that some bees get lost from their hives? Well this is called "Colony Collapse Disorder". This happens because of fungi and bacteria in hives, that is bad for the bees immune system. Chemicals that are sprayed on plants could be the result of this. Many pollinators are being killed by pesticides and chemicals. Pollinators aren't just honey bees, they can be wild bees, bats, and bugs. A lot of bees get killed by these little vampire bugs, called mites!

     I also learned about different types of chickens, which I knew nothing about. In this story Mae had Sumatra and Holland breed of chickens. Some of Maes neighbors were skeptical about having chickens, they consider them as vermin, but they certainly are not! What I thought was cool was that Mae had a "fort" type of structure made out of cob. Cob is a mixture of soil, sand, clay and straw. When it dries you can mold it into shapes.

    This book was very interesting, I learned so many new things about nature. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves nature and would like to learn more about it. This book would be great for a science class to read and maybe do a presentation on bees or chickens! IF YOU GET A CHANCE READ THIS BOOK!!!!


Katie Gibson is a Freshman at Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake High School. She likes to read, write, draw, swim, dive and cook. Comment here publically or privately via member email.


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