cover image This Is the Earth

This Is the Earth

Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, illus. by Wendell Minor. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-055526-9

Minor’s elegant watercolor paintings offset the finger-wagging environmental message of this collaboration between Shore and Alexander, which reprises the “House-That-Jack-Built” rhythms of This Is the Dream and This Is the Game. Unspoiled natural vistas—animals idling on the savannah, fish leaping from a pristine river, birds soaring in a clear sky—lead into images of indigenous peoples and American pioneers harvesting food and tending to livestock, in harmony with the land. The tone darkens substantially as industrialization brings advances in transportation, factories, and other development that pollutes the air, land, and water. Minor (Galápagos George) provides images of overflowing landfills, orange wastewater pouring into the sea, and loggers ravaging a rainforest: “This is the Earth, polluted by greed,/ as we take what we want, which is more than we need.” The mood lightens in the final pages as the focus turns to solutions, and Minor shows contemporary children and adults recycling, biking, and tending to gardens and trees. Minor’s precise renderings of wildlife and flora are characteristically lovely, but the juxtaposition of major environmental problems and simplistic, child-friendly solutions is jarring. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)