“The Wind at Work, 2nd Edition” by Gretchen Woelfle

c.1997, 2013, Chicago Review Press $16.95 / $18.95 Canada 147 pages

“Friends of the Earth: A History of American Environmentalism” by Pat McCarthy

c.2013, Chicago Review Press $16.95 / $18.95 Canada 133 pages

When it comes to being green, you’re always careful to do your part.

When you’re outside, you pick up litter and put it where it belongs. At home, you don’t waste water or forget to turn off lights, and you always recycle. It’s the right thing to do to save the Earth, and every little bit helps.

And, as you’ll see in “The Wind at Work” by Gretchen Woelfle and “Friends of the Earth: A History of American Environmentalism” by Pat McCarthy, others have done their parts, too, in many different ways.

When you see those big white wind turbines clustered in a field, churning away, you might think that modern technology is awesome. And you’d be right – but as you’ll read in “The Wind at Work,” windmills are not modern at all.

Eight hundred years ago, windmills were “the most powerful machines in Europe” and were important to the people in small communities. When steam engines became popular in the 1800s, windmills usage fell, only to rise again in the U.S. in the 1940s.

The best things about wind power, says Gretchen Woelfle, are that it’s renewable, clean, safe, economical, and non-polluting. It’s also fun to harness for yourself, and “The Wind at Work” shows you how.

Just like windmills are nothing new, caring for the Earth is an old idea, too, as you’ll see in “Friends of the Earth.”

Though they didn’t call it “environmentalism,” Native Americans cared for the land long before Europeans ever set foot on the continent. Benjamin Franklin hated when early American businesses dumped waste without a care because he knew that fresh water was important. Artist John James Audubon became concerned about the overhunting of birds. Author Henry David Thoreau inspired others by his animal studies and nature writing.

By the mid-1800s, national parks were established and the U.S. government recognized the need to do something official by making laws and acts to protect the environment. Those acts were followed by the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the EPA, and Earth Day.

Someday, your child will be the next caretaker of this planet. You can make sure he’s forearmed and inspired with these two helpful books.

In telling the stories of those who shaped environmentalism in America, author Pat McCarthy shows kids that everyday people can make a big difference in keeping the earth clean. I liked the diversity of the biographies in “Friends of the Earth,” and I think kids will enjoy seeing the pictures that are here.

“The Wind at Work” is a great book for the budding scientist. Author Gretchen Woelfle adds maps and technology to her story of wind power, and while that makes this book a somewhat more challenging read, I think interested young scholars will be up for the task.

Both of these books include fun, educational activities and would be perfect for home shelf or classroom. If your 11-to-15-year-olds embrace environmentalism and love being green, then “The Wind at Work” and “Friends of the Earth” should be a big part of their reading.

“Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline

c.2013, William Morrow $14.99 / $16.99 Canada 278 pages

Your memories could fill a thousand scrapbooks.

On this page here, you’d glue that first-day-of-school smell. If you could, you’d paste the sound of your father coming home from work. Your mother’s voice would be saved between pages of perfect-weather days, lost loves, and hot cocoa. You’d fasten down puppy breath, running through sprinklers, and birthday cake.

You could fill volumes with the memories you hold, but Vivian Daly has packed hers in boxes enough to fill an attic. And in the new book “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline, the time has come to empty them.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayers hoped that Ralph and Dina’s house would be the last one she’d have to endure; she’d cycle out of the foster care system soon, and a last-minute move was ridiculous. It was obvious, though, that Dina didn’t like her, so Molly started packing after she was caught stealing a ratty library paperback. She wanted the book and she was sure Dina wanted a convenient excuse to kick her out.

Molly knew she was facing either a new foster home or short-time juvie, until her friend-cum-boyfriend, Jack, came up with another solution: his mother worked for a ninety-one-year-old woman who needed help cleaning her house. It was the perfect place for Molly to serve her community-service punishment. It was the perfect place to wait out her time in the foster system.

Molly figured she’d be bored.

She didn’t figure that Vivian Daly would be so interesting, and she began to think Vivian would be a good subject for a senior-year project on “portage.” Surely in her ninety-one years, Vivian had carried something dear from one place to another…

Nine-year-old Niahm (pronounced “Neev”) Power held tight to the claddagh necklace that her Gram had given her. It was 1929 and the gift was a lifetime ago: Gram gave it to her before the boat ride to America; before Da, Maisie and the twins died in the fire, and before Niahm was put on the train heading west.

It was before Naihm learned that trust was everything when you have nothing else.

I always know that I’ve got a good novel in my hands when I spontaneously gasp, “Oh, no!” while I’m reading.

I did that a lot with “Orphan Train.”

And yet, I have a hard time nailing down why. The appeal of this book isn’t the well-crafted characters or the what-would-I-do-if-it-was-me feeling they give you. It’s not that author Christina Baker Kline based it loosely on real historical events that many adults are surprised to learn about – although that’s pretty appealing in itself.

No, I think the draw here is in those gasping moments, the “You don’t want me anymore?” poignancy, the desperate sense of loss embedded in this story, all of which sneak up on you while you’re reading and make it unforgettable.

Crack this book open just one page, in fact, and I don’t think you’ll be able to let it go. “Orphan Train” is one of those books that sticks to your heart like glue.

(The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.)