cover image Everglades


Jean Craighead George. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021228-5

Newbery Medalist George presents a haunting plea for the preservation of endangered ecosystems, a plea strengthened by Minor's majestic paintings. Poling a canoe through the Everglades, a man tells his five young passengers a story. Beginning with ``the age of the Seashells,'' the narrator shows the children how the spillover from Lake Okeechobee became ``a slow river that gleamed like quicksilver''; and how the ``saw grass clattered like a trillion swords'' when the wind blew. As he describes ``all things large and small that make the Earth beautiful,'' full-spread art depicts the river's history, while medallions top text pages with symbols of the vanishing Everglades. When the storyteller details the wanton destruction of this habitat, the dispirited children request ``a happy story.'' He then tells of how ``five children and a storyteller poled into the Everglades'' and ``eventually the children grew up and ran the Earth.'' With her narrative skill and expertise as a naturalist, George adroitly avoids didacticism. A particularly persuasive environmental work. Ages 6-9. (May)