This is the Earth
by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander
illustrated by Wendell Minor
HarperCollins Children's Books, 2016
review copy provided by the publisher
If you just read the visuals in this gorgeously illustrated book, you will trace the historical impact Americans* have had on the earth. In the first spread, there are no humans, in the second, a single canoe on a wild river. The sky dominates the third spread, but there is a group of teepees in the lower left corner. European settlers, railroads, steamships and airplanes appear in rapid succession, then modern cities, smoking landfills and waste spewing into the ocean. Before our eyes, a rainforest is leveled and glaciers melt into the ocean as polar bears look on. Just in the nick of time, we see recycling, commuters on bikes, a community garden, sea turtles being helped across the sand to the ocean, trees being planted, reusable grocery bags being carried. Finally, humans become a small part of the big picture again, as a group of four hike across a mountain meadow while alpine wildlife look on. Any grade level with a standard that teaches students to attend to the tone or mood created by the visuals in the media could use this book to spark rich discussions.
The text is rhyming, with the pattern, "This is the..." Mirroring the images, the book begins with "This is the earth..." then "This is the river..." and "This is the sky..." before changing to "This is the spike..." and This is the steamer..." and "This is the plane..."
Here is a sampling from the hopeful ending of the book:
"This is the Earth that we treat with respect,
where people and animals interconnect,
where we learn to find balance between give and take
and help heal the planet with choices we make."
Linda is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup at TeacherDance.
*I originally typed "humans," but then realized that this story is predominantly that of the United States' impact on the environment. We're not the only ones, but we're huge, and if this giant would take a positive stand to make sweeping changes, we could lead the way toward a healing and healthy Earth.