cover image Stories for a Fragile Planet

Stories for a Fragile Planet

Kenneth Steven, illus. by Jane Ray. Lion (IPG/Trafalgar Square, dist.), $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7459-6157-6

Ray's (The Dollhouse Fairy) tapestry-like illustrations unite Steven's (Imagining Things) stories about the wounding and healing of the natural world. Each is set in a different part of the world: some are familiar ("A Fishy Tale," a version of the traditional Fisherman's Wife tale; "How the Seasons Came to Be," a retelling of the Persephone myth); others will be new to readers. Some may seem alien, like the story about the girl from Greenland whose tears cleanse the ocean of the blood of slaughtered whales. A South American man heals the forest of scars from a mine; a saint holds a bird's nest in his hands until the eggs hatch. Steven's prose sometimes approaches the overwrought%E2%80%94 "Mist lay like wool in the valleys, but up above, the sky was as pure and blue as a cut sapphire"%E2%80%94but his retellings are persuasive. Like Persian miniatures, Ray's folk-style paintings attend to small details. Trees are dotted with delicate leaves, the skies with birds, and humans appear surrounded by natural beauty. The stories emphasize not the planet's fragility but the power of its life. Ages 7%E2%80%9312. (Aug.)