Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, February 8, 2018

This Blue Planet

Every time you witness a sunrise or a sunset you are reminded of the wonders waiting to be seen on this Blue Planet.  The rustle of dried, crumpled oak leaves clinging to a branch, the crunch of snow beneath your boots on a bitter, cold afternoon, the notes of birdsong, the chattering of local squirrels, the gentle rippling of water as you wade across a stream and the smell of blooming lavender on a summer's evening as fireflies blink off and on are cherished memories of treasures offered by our Earth.  This place we humans and a host of creatures call home is remarkable.

No one can extol the virtues of our home more than Earth.  Earth!: My First 4.54 Billion Years (Henry Holt and Company, October 24, 2017) by Earth (with Stacy McAnulty) and illustrated by Earth (and David Litchfield) is a humorous, lighthearted and informative look at the third planet from the sun.  Let's join Earth now for fun and facts.

Hi!  My name is 
Some people call me
the blue marble,
the world,
or the third planet from the sun.
You can call me
Planet Awesome.

Earth quickly acquaints us with a favorite activity, spinning.  Some spins take a day.  Other spins take a whole year.  Moon is Earth's best buddy.  They go everywhere together.  Earth has the time needed for Moon to spin around Earth down to the second.

When you're 4.54 billion years old, it's tough to remember babyhood but Earth says:

But I've been told I was a hot mess.

After that it rained and rained and rained.  It rained for thousands of years.  Earth was in for even more surprises, islands.  These islands connected and then divided into what we now call continents.  We have seven.

Earth shows us a timeline, a huge ruler, designating the arrival of air, plants, bugs, dinosaurs, mammals, birds, flowers and finally humans.  Another secret is shared.  Earth loved the time of the dinosaurs; all 175 million years.

Earth tells us about all the disasters like eruptions of volcanoes, ice ages and asteroids.  On the upside Earth has stayed the same under the surface.  There's still a crust, mantle, outer core and inner core.  Earth shares a final confidence.  Humans are captivating.  There's never a dull moment with humans.  We do tend to be careless with Earth sometimes but Earth believes in us.  Let's honor this respect!

As soon as Earth begins to chat with readers through the words written by Stacy McAnulty, it's as if we are gathered together enjoying a picnic in a grassy meadow under a spreading Sycamore tree.  Earth's pride is evident in the statements made about its position in the solar system and the galaxy, the daily and yearly spinning accomplishments and the beauty of flowers.  Humor is found in asides made about Pluto and comments about other animals' interest in Earth as opposed to human fascination with Earth.  Here is a passage.

Some used to say I have eight siblings,
but Pluto is more like the family pet. 

Rendered in pencils, ink, watercolor paints, and digital art tools the illustrations starting with the opened dust jacket shout out a big hello to readers.  Earth is slowly spinning among the stars, smiling and waiting to talk with us.  To the left, on the back, she is peeking up from the lower, left-hand corner.  She's reading:

Read this book about Earth,
written by Earth, while you float through
space on---you guessed it---Earth!

To readers enjoyment David Litchfield has given us a different book case.  The background is a blend of green and golden hues sprinkled with stars.  Earth, on the back and to the left, is again looking at the same words as on the dust jacket.  But on the front she is much larger spanning from edge to edge looking upward, grinning and her hands are near her mouth as if she just can't believe how fortunate she is.

The opening and closing endpapers are a blended blue, green and golden array replete with stars.  On the title page Earth looks as if she can hardly wait to share her secrets with us.  Earth is a constant character on every page turn but two.  Her size is in keeping with the narrative and other elements David Litchfield uses in his design.  She may be extending a hand to point out important features, joining her siblings (and the Sun), having fun with the Moon, or taking a journey through time in a photo album.

In his portrayal of Earth David Litchfield endears readers to their residence.  Her mannerisms, facial expressions and hands are spirited and inviting.  On the final three two-page pictures Earth extends from page edge to page edge.  Superimposed on her enlarged eyes, mouth and continents are smaller elements relative to the text.  These are wonderful, emotional portraits.

One of my many favorite images is of Earth as an infant.  On the photo album page which is tilted and extends across the gutter to the left, the caption at the top reads:

Explosive.  Gassy!  Very cranky.

Earth is shown as red hot, frowny-eyed and with crossed arms.  A pacifier is stuck in her mouth.  Under one of the corner tabs it reads:


On the far left present-day Earth is shown smiling and holding and looking at the album.

For any readers, even your youngest readers, Earth!:  My First 4.54 Billion Years written by Stacy McAnulty with illustrations by David Litchfield is a must for all your collections.  With comedy, captivating conversation and interesting information Earth tells us a lot about Earth.  At the close of the book Stacy McAnulty speaks to alien visitors about Earth.  She further includes items about the continents, Earth's location and life.  There is also a list of sources.

To discover more about Stacy McAnulty and David Litchfield and their other work, please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  Stacy has activity pages associated with this title at her site.  You can see illustrations at David's site different from those found at the publisher's website.  Stacy McAnulty is a guest at author Tara Lazar's Writing for Kids (While Raising Them).  Stacy is interviewed at WeGrowMedia.  David maintains accounts on Tumblr and Instagram.  I hope you enjoy the videos.

Please be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by Alyson Beecher to enjoy the books selected this week by other participants in the 2018 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

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