#DutchKidLit Nonfiction – Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change by Marc ter Horst

Today is September 11 and it is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States of America. That Tuesday morning in 2001, I was working for the Ithaca City School District in Upstate New York and along with a class full of my husband’s middle school ICT students, we watched incredulously as the second plane flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, live on national television. We could not imagine that we had actually watched a terrorist attack in real time. The depth of our disbelief and horror remains with us.

As the United States and the world commemorates this day, I have been reading about the lessons we did and did not learn from 9/11. What looms large in my mind is that we have failed to mitigate our reliance on oil and other non-renewable energy sources. Our climate is changing faster than scientists projected with disastrous environmental and political problems that are likely to continue. We need to come to grips with how this has been allowed to happen and, most importantly, what can be done to save our planet and ourselves before it is too late.

Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change is just the kind of nonfiction book for children that we need, a book to educate and encourage young readers to consider solutions to global warming and other environmental issues. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the future ramifications of our decisions about tackling climate change. Author Ter Horst has packed this book full of scientific facts and insights that pull no punches about the whys and hows of the deterioration of the Earth’s climate, while outlining succinctly how complicated our alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels are despite their potential. He has written an accessible narrative nonfiction text that balances complex scientific processes, discoveries, and experiments with a refreshing dose of pragmatic Dutch humor and clear, straightforward historical contexts. Brightly illustrated double page spreads include flora and fauna, scientists and activists, diagrams and charts, all worthy of second and third looks. Presented in chronological order and organized into ten chapters, each two-page essay focuses in on a fascinating fact, event, or issue:

It’s a story filled with volcanoes, mammoths and steam engines. And with brave scientists drilling deep into the ice to prove that climate change has always taken place, but that today’s global warming is an entirely different story. Not only is Palm Trees at the North Pole a book about the most important issue facing the next generation, it’s also full of surprising information and a really fun read!

New Dutch Writing, Nederlands Letterenfonds

Each entry can be read and analyzed as standalone essays and are the perfect length for reading aloud or having students read and take notes for further discussion. Of course, there will be readers like myself who read the entire book straight through! And let’s face it, “Farts from the Sea” is exactly what kids want to read about:

A quick flip through the sturdy, hardcover edition is a feast for the eyes and useful to share the book with readers of all ages. This will definitely stand up to multiple readings and readers:

The wonderful illustrations by Wendy Panders and the masterful translation into English by Laura Watkinson make Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change an artfully engaging, as well as informative and timely, nonfiction read for young climate activists ages 9 and up.

There is also a helpful Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change Companion Guide for Teachers and Parents” available via Greystone Books.

This month there is also the opportunity to attend the virtual Reading is Magic Festival session on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 where Ter Horst will be co-presenting with author Emma Shevah “Looking after our Planet with Emma Shevah & Marc ter Horst,” sponsored by Bath Children’s Literature Festival and New Dutch Writing, an exciting campaign that promotes “Dutch authors in the UK & Ireland and celebrating the important work of literary translators in making Dutch literature available to English language readers.”

About the event
Have you ever wanted to make a difference to the world but didn’t know quite where to start? Thai-Irish author Emma Shevah and Dutch writer Marc ter Horst are here to tell you how small things can make a big, and positive, difference. In How to Save the World With a Chicken and an Egg, Emma’s characters Ivy and Nathaniel unexpectedly meet on a cold English beach with the arrival of a rare and wondrous giant leatherback turtle who lays her eggs in front of the world’s media. Soon they’re united in an eco-mission. While Marc’s intriguingly titled Palm Trees at the North Pole encourages young climate activists to engage even more deeply with their chosen cause by sharing the science and history of climate change in an accessible and entertaining way. Get top tips on how to get started and how you can make a difference!

Check out the Reading is Magic Festival Guide here for more information and all the details about how to attend.

Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change
Written by Marc ter Horst
Illustrated by Wendy Panders
Translated from the original Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Published by Greystone Books, 2021
Originally published 2018 as Palmen op de Noordpool: het grote verhaal van klimaatverandering by Gottmer
ISBN: 9789025768171

You can buy a copy of Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change here.


“It’s great to have everything explained in such a straightforward and unsensational manner, and the book’s message, that co-operation is the way forward, gives one hope.” — Financial Times

“An entertaining… overview of climate change…. this visually appealing account is inviting and ultimately reassuring.” — Booklist

“A comprehensive account engagingly presented.” — Kirkus Reviews

This post may contain affiliate links that earn Global Literature in Libraries Initiative a commission at no extra cost to you.

Marc ter Horst is a Dutch writer of nonfiction children’s books. Growing up upstairs from his parents’ bicycle shop, he read many books and comics. Marc studied literature, but soon found himself more interested in geology, astronomy, and evolution. Working at the National Institute for Curriculum Development, he discovered his real talent was explaining things in little words. Eventually he found the courage to become an independent copywriter and wrote for websites, museums of (natural) history, and educational publishers. He is the author of several nonfiction books for kids, and his books have been translated into several languages. Marc lives in Nijmegen in the Netherlands with his girlfriend, two kids, and two naughty rabbits.
Wendy Panders (b. 1966) worked as a graphic designer before drawing took over. She makes illustrations for newspapers, magazines and books for adults and children, but children’s books are her favourite. She uses pen, ink, paint and chalk as well as a computer.
Laura Watkinson translates from Dutch, Italian and German into English. She studied medieval and modern languages at St Anne’s College, Oxford University, followed by a Master of Studies in European literature. She went on to teach in various locations, including the universities of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Milan, before returning to university to take a Masters in English and applied linguistics at RCEAL and Trinity Hall, Cambridge University. Watkinson has been a full-time literary translator since 2003. Follow Laura on Twitter @Laura_Wat.
Kim Tyo-Dickerson, seen here visiting the Kinderboekenmuseum/Children’s Book Museum in The Hague, is the Upper School Librarian and Head of Libraries at the International School of Amsterdam. She was the guest editor for Global Literature in Libraries Initiative’s #WorldKidLitMonth in September of 2020 where she celebrated #DutchKidLit, the children’s literature of ‘the happiest children in the world (as measured by UNICEF). Kim has a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is one of the founding members of the grassroots professional learning project International Teacher Librarians Lead (inTLlead) and is committed to world libraries, literatures, and literacies. Originally from United States, she has lived on three continents and worked in international school libraries for 16 years in both Europe and Africa. Kim’s languages include English, German, and Dutch. You can follow her on Twitter @kimtyodickerson.

2 thoughts on “#DutchKidLit Nonfiction – Palm Trees at the North Pole: The Hot Truth about Climate Change by Marc ter Horst

  1. Such a timely and fresh connection to the 20 year anniversary.
    I love the option of “stand alone read aloud essays”.
    Another book to add to my must read list.


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