Cynthia Pratt Nicolson. Illustrated by Bill Slavin.
Grades 2 - 6 / Ages 7 - 11.
You are an Earthling - you live on planet Earth. People have lived on Earth for thousands of years. Plants and animals have been here even longer. But where did Earth itself come from and when? All over the world people have made up stories to explain how Earth began.
Young Earthlings are invited to join Nicolson and Slavin on an adventure of discovery which blends text, illustration and creative activities. The Earth is the second collaboration between Nicolson and Slavin, their first being Earthdance published in 1994. With brevity and clarity, this successful partnership explores the concepts of space, the planets, the Earth's surface, weather and life on Earth. Nicolson begins her first chapter, "Earth our home in space," with an overview of creation myths from around the world. She then moves into the specifics of the scientific theory and proceeds to elaborate upon the names, positions and distinguishing features of the planets.
As Nicolson explores her materials, she invites young readers to "Try it!" by providing a series of hands on activities which illustrate her text. This pattern of concept/myth, science and activity is repeated throughout the book, placing the ideas about space within an historical, creative context and then translating these issues into the concrete. For the most part, the materials needed are readily available. A flashlight and plastic lid easily replicate the effects of a lunar eclipse. In my household, the demonstration was easily compared to an actual lunar eclipse, a happy coincidence. Experiments requiring kitchen products come with a reminder to seek adult supervision. One experiment, however, attempted by the reviewer with children 10 and over was not successful. Even using a variety of jar sizes and various adaptations of technique, the experiment to "create some currents" was not reproducible, an unfortunate occurrence in an otherwise consistently accessible presentation. While the book will probably be most useful to those with children under ten years of age who will not be self-conscious about the picture book format, the design of text and illustration, the print size, and the presence of many cultures make the book very attractive for libraries and schools serving an ESL population.
Bill Slavin, popular as a picture book illustrator, has also created a strong collection of illustrated non-fiction titles. He has interpreted many subjects from hockey (Hockey for Kids by B. McFarlane) to telephone technology (Phone Book by Elizabeth MacLeod). In The Earth, he illustrates both the technical and the mythical. His illustrations of the discovery activities are clear and emphasize the accessibility of the experiments.
The Earth is introduced by the publishers as one in a new series called Starting with Space. Additional titles, The Moon and The Sun, are also available.Recommended.
Jennifer Johnson works as a children's librarian in Ottawa, Ontario.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - APRIL 25, 1997.
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