cover image The Earth and I

The Earth and I

Frank Asch. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200443-9

``The Earth and I are friends,'' begins this sentimental picture book in which a boy inventories the many ways he and the planet benefit and enjoy each other. Examples both obvious (``I help her to grow. She helps me to grow'' accompanies pictures of the boy tilling soil, then eating food) and inspired (``I dance for her. She dances for me'' is paired with the boy raking leaves, then the leaves being blown about by a gust of wind) give way to the book's ultimate ``green'' message: ``When she's sad, I'm sad'' captions a view of a scrap heap. The simple text is consistent with Asch's repertoire of very young picture books (Happy Birthday, Moon; Bear Shadow), but it lacks the humor that have made the others preschool classics. He paints a dreamscape of liquidy watercolors, with blues, purples, greens and reds bleeding together in a wash of rainbows that cover both the boy and the earth: hair, clothes, leaves, clouds are each multicolored. Jaded adults may have to stifle a laugh at the final, feel-good illustration, which features the narrator hugging a tree. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)