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The Children's Bookshelf: Hello Earth - April 2022

HELLO EARTH: Poems to Our Planet written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora is a unique publication full of such gifts as enchanting pictures and lovely poetry wrapped in questions put forth to the planet by the children of the Earth.

Each of the twenty-two poems are spoken in the first person by these children collectively. They ask Earth sincere questions about its earthquakes, deserts, trees, tides and snow-capped mountains. In the poem Fiery the children ask Earth how it feels when part of it erupts like a new tooth---- “A tooth as big/ as a mountain:/ a glow/ a flow…/ a VOLCANO!”

The illustrations, rendered in watercolor and acrylics, follow the children as they walk on roads, cross swinging bridges, ski down mountaintops, swim in vast oceans, play on beaches, explore jungles, bike in cities and plant gardens. The cover of the book drenched in a sky full of stars is stunning. It depicts children and animals standing on top of the Earth. One child is on stilts, another is riding on an ostrich, another is dancing in a tutu and yet another with a bullhorn says Hello Earth!

The back material is well put forth with an extensive section entitled More About How the Earth Works. It includes information about Earth’s age, size, history, rotation and orbit, oceans, ecosystems and human impact.

Hello Earth! Poems to Our Planet written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora is a beautiful mix of poetry and art about the wonders of Earth for readers 5-9 years of age (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the activity questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Hello Earth!

The children in this book ask Earth all kinds of questions. If you could ask the Earth questions what would they be? Make a list. Younger readers may want to ask fun questions build from their experience with nursery rhymes and fairytales. Older children should take a look at the back materials before deciding on their questions.

The illustration for the poem Rainbow is about how the children of the planet love the Earth and each other. Younger children can play a visual game by studying the detailed illustration for this poem and finding the following: a snow man, a child dressed as superman, a girl in a wheelchair, a boy climbing a mountainside, a tightrope walker, a bear, an ostrich, stilts, a sky diver, a cello, a penguin and an acrobatic team.

Older readers can look at the map of Earth that accompanies the poem entitled The Puzzle. You will need to get a Mercator map of the world in order to orient yourself. Parents can help. Then find North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia and the Antarctic on the map in the book. Why does the author title the poem The Puzzle?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.