Two weeks into self-isolation, and I’m appreciating my daily outing to walk the dog. The sun, the wind, the bird calls, all serve to lift my spirits. So for my last selection for Women’s History Month, I’m giving a nod to Mother Earth, our greatest female icon, by featuring Patricia MacLachlan’s stunning new ode to our planet.
The first spread shows Earth snoozing under a blanket of snow.
But what’s this? A flap!
“My friend Earth wakes from a winter nap.”
See that tiny bird through the die-cut? Earth’s eye directs you there. And more tiny die-cuts in the leaves on the far right invite you to turn the page….
…where those very cuts become insect bodies on the far left. And Earth continues to peek at that bird through the die-cut in the center of the left page.
“She hears the busy spring sounds—
the farmer’s hoe tap-tapping in the garden,
the caws of crows.”
The innovative die-cuts lead from each spread to the next, the top of the page cut in undulating patterns, like rivers and mountains, like waves and branches, like herds of migrating animals. It is exquisite. And when the top lies flat, a corner of a page may take the die-cut pattern of a wave. Francesca Sanna has created layers of texture through color, pattern, and innovative die-cuts that will keep kids flipping pages back and forth to examine how they work.
MacLachlan’s lyrical prose ebbs and flows throughout, making it a pleasure to read aloud. The story arc runs the full cycle through the seasons with Earth interacting with species in ways large and small, setting up tension and then releasing it through this interaction.
In one of the last spreads, Earth lies among a throng of dozing animals…
“Under the white—
the silent seed
is cradled in the dark soil.
Next spread where she lies under a blanket of snow, sleeping once again.
Turn the flap, where the seed has now popped into a flower. And Earth opens one eye to direct our gaze in wonder at the flower.
“To fly up again in the warm bright sun of
Yes, this is a perfect picture book to share while we’re stuck for hours inside, yearning for the freedom to observe the gift that is our Earth every day.
Watch Blue Planet or Planet Earth on Netflix. If you have access to Disney+, you can watch any number of National Geographic nature films.
Take a walk in the great outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, still maintaining social distance
Make a nature table of found items. Use those items to inspire a poem for Earth Day on April 22
Pair this book with any of Kate Messner’s nature series (Over and Under the Snow, Over and Under the Pond, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)
Title: My Friend Earth
Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2020
Ages: Pre-K to 2nd grade
Themes: seasons, nature, earth
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susan Hill’s Perfect Picture Book blog.