________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 8 . . . . December 11, 1998

cover An Anthology for the Earth.

Judy Allen (ed.)
Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press), 1998.
96 pp., cloth, $26.99.
ISBN 0-7636-0301-5.

Subject Heading:
Nature-Literary collections.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.
Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


One spring day, a hunter shot at a flight of wild swans and brought down the leader. By chance it fell at the feet of the young Buddha. He soothed the bird, withdrew the arrow and laid cool leaves and healing honey on the wound. When the hunter claimed his prey, Buddha refused to part with the swan. His decision was supported by an unknown priest who argued that a living thing belongs more to him who preserves its life than to him who tries to destroy it. "The Slayer spoils and wastes, the cherisher sustains; give him the bird." With that, the unknown priest mysteriously disappeared and Buddha released the swan, fully healed, to rejoin its kind.
image In poems, stories, personal anecdotes and belief statements, the people of many cultures and countries speak in defense of the earth and of the need to treat it with care in order to preserve it for future generations. Forty-four authors, including Sir David Attenborough, Anton Chekhov and Albert Schweitzer, share their thoughts alongside those of a Kapayo Indian Chief, an Australian Aboriginal woman, and an 11-year-old boy. Many of the offerings are full of despair, some are hopeful and inspiring, a few humorous - but all of them thought-provoking. It is interesting to note that people who lived in the 6th century B.C. were just as concerned about the state of the earth as those living today.

      The collection of writings and their accompanying illustrations can best be described as eclectic. With few exceptions, each piece covers a double-page spread. Text fonts vary in size and style with some being easier to read than others. Obviously the writing style and vocabulary difficulty vary, a situation which presents a challenge at the elementary school level. Better readers will be able to comprehend the stories and poems, but several of the pieces would require the teacher's interpretation, especially when the language and expressions used are those of a bygone era.

      The illustrations have been done by 32 different artists and include photographs, watercolours, pen and ink drawings, woodcuts, pencil crayon renderings, cartoon-like art and other mixed media. Each of the illustrations is well-suited to its matching text.

      Brief biographical notes about the authors are presented at the back of the book as well as an index of authors and illustrators and a list of acknowledgements.

      Allen's collection, a well-balanced mix of powerful images and gentle, soothing words, is guaranteed to cause readers to examine their own thinking about ecology and the stewardship of the planet.


Gail Hamilton is the teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School, East St. Paul, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364