cover image Suite for Human Nature

Suite for Human Nature

Diane Charlotte Lampert, illus. by Eric Puybaret. S&S/Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4169-5373-9

Lampert wrote the libretto for Wynton Marsalis’s 2004 Suite for Human Nature, an allegory about how love tames aggressive emotions. In this adaptation, Puybaret’s (Alice in Wonderland) gauzy and graceful paintings on linen create an ethereal ambience; a fairylike Mother Nature with umber skin and a flowing aqua gown with petal accents sustains the weather, flora, and fauna. Mother Nature tends the Earth and cares especially for humans, but she also yearns for children of her own. One by one, she crafts little troublemakers named Fear, Hate, Envy, Greed, and Fickle. The gender dynamics are questionable, since all are boys except flirty Fickle. While Mother Nature governs the seasons, “waking up bulbs” in spring and “ripen[ing] the fields” in summer, she leaves humans in charge of her children and returns to an ever-more-volatile populace. At last, after consulting with the four winds, the anxious Mother Nature creates girl twins who model patient Love. Reminiscent of the story of Pandora’s box and other creation tales, this gently told allegory avoids its violent implications and favors optimistic resolutions. All ages. (May)