Friday, March 04, 2016

Poetry Friday -- This is the Earth

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.


  1. Thanks for highlighting this book, Mary Lee. I got to know Diane many years ago through our chapter of SCBWI - she and Jessica have given us wonderful books! Wendell Minor is one of my favorite illustrators ever, and a warm personality to boot. I enjoyed seeing this in person at (teacher-daughter) Morgan's book fair a couple of weeks ago. Such an important message through words and art.

  2. Anonymous10:41 AM

    YES to a healthy and healing Earth!

  3. This looks really lovely - the illustrations tying together so nicely with the rollicking words.

  4. Thanks for featuring this one, Mary Lee. I,too, LOVE Wendell Minor's art, and I like the timely message of this book.

  5. Oh, this looks VERY special and important... thank you!

  6. Love the excerpt that you shared. I'll have to find this one. Thanks for bringing to my attention.

  7. This looks like a wonderful book. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for sharing this book, Mary - I'm seeing possibilities for teaching here, and so off to Amazon I go!

  9. I just saw this book reviewed earlier in the week, Mary Lee. It just looks fabulous. Thanks for telling a little more about it.

  10. Anonymous10:55 PM

    I hadn't heard of this book, Mary Lee, but it sounds like a must-have. Thanks so much for sharing it today.

  11. We've got to get the message out. Greed and entitlement will be the death of US. I hope this book helps.

  12. The description of the visuals was enough to give me chills. I'm sad for what we are doing to our planet, but I appreciate this book's hopeful ending... we have our work cut out for us.


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