cover image Earthdance


Joanne Ryder. Henry Holt & Company, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-2678-8

""Stretch your arms out wide and slowly spin around,"" encourages the narrator of Ryder's (The Snail's Spell) somewhat uneven environmental ode, in which the reader imagines him or herself as Earth. Certain passages resonate with poetic imagery (""You are twirling so gracefully, carefully, not even the sand moves as you spin""). Others stumble along (""Up your hills/ and down your rivers,/ cars and ships/ carry people/ from one place/ to another,/ all places on you""). The powerful illustrations, however, solidify the book's appeal. Gorbaty's (God's Gift) conceptual, stencil compositions-most featuring a horizon-like arc-convey movement, as if the scenes of crowds, volcanoes and footprints in the snow are revolving on a globe before the viewer. Often he needs only a few bold strokes and scratches of color against a deep black background to capture a world charged with energy and drama, one in which majestic icebergs crack and waterfalls tumble. Most readers should catch on to the book's novel, albeit abstract approach. Its case for actually inspiring a sense of connection and responsibility to the planet is less certain, though given its visual strengths, it stands a good chance. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)