Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

This Is the Earth

This Is the Earth

Diane Z. Shore, Jessica Alexander
Illustrator:   Wendell Minor 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
HarperCollins, 2016   ISBN: 978-0060555269

Very few of us humans have left our planet and gone into space. It is hard for us not to take our home for granted because it has been here for millennia and surely will continue to be here for many more. In 1968 Bill Anders, one of the astronauts on Apollo 8, took the first photo of the earth and when people saw that photo they realized that Earth is actually quite small, and quite “fragile.”

Unfortunately, the message in that photo has passed many people by. They continue to think that the Earth can absorb all the abuse we unleash on it. Even when scientists warn us to conserve water, to clean our air, to cut back on the use of fossil fuels, and to preserve ecosystems, we choose to ignore them. Why should we bother?

In this book the authors and illustrator tell us the story of how life on Earth has changed over time because we humans have become so thoughtless and complacent about our planet’s health. Long ago creatures that lived on the land, in the water, and in the skies, happily shared the earth for thousands of years. Then human society began to evolve. At first humans, plants and animals lived together and shared the gifts that the earth gave us. Then the industrial revolution arrived, bringing with it railways, river steamers, airplanes, and cities, and humans began to “change how we live on this Earth that we share.”

We soiled the land, the waters and the air. “Polluted by greed,” we cut down forests so that we could “take what we want, which is more than we need.” Now, because of this behavior, glaciers in the Arctic are melting and our air is contaminated; we live on a planet where we are “endangering nature, creating despair.” Now we have to change our behavior and once again learn “how to live on this Earth that we share.”

With beautifully rhyming verse and gorgeous art, this book show us why we should treasure Earth. It is not just our home, it is also the home of millions of species of plants and animals. It is our legacy, one that we have to learn how to “treat with respect,” and one which requires us to find the “balance between give and take.”

With a simple narrative the authors help us see how we have come to our current environmental crisis point, and what we have to do to try to fix the damage that we have done. It is up to every one of us to do our part to love “this Earth that we share.”

Wendell Minor’s artwork perfectly captures the essence of the text, showing us Earth’s natural beauty, and also the harmful things that we have done to damage that beauty.

This is a book that librarians, teachers, and other grownups will love to share with their children, to empower them to take up the mantle of being the caretakers of their home planet.