Make the Earth Your Companion

illus. by Anna Balbusso & Elena Balbusso. 32p. Creative Editions. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781568462691.
Gr 4–6—Brief, evocative phrases invite readers to experience Earth's grandeur and to "walk lightly on it, as other creatures do." Lewis's poetic glimpses of different regions stir reflection. "Learn from the sea how to face harsh forces." Some of the allusions will be more accessible to children than others. The woodland can be "your house of peace" and the rain forest "your canopy of hope." Some suggestions are elusive. Why "meet the wetland on twilight ground"? And what might it mean to "hear the desert whisper hush to eternity"? Created by illustrators established in Italy, the sweeping computer-generated views blend realism and fantasy, illuminating the poetry with mixed results. Set in golden light, the mountains are grand, and the blue world of the penguins among ice caps evokes glistening, crystalline majesty. However, the clustered trees of the woodland have the look of a comic book creation, and the canoe passengers on the river appear to be riding through a hodgepodge of human detritus. Some views contain messy and confusing lines of scribble. Lewis moves from the world of nature to that of humans in his conclusion: "Feel the town weave a small basket of togetherness."
VERDICT With a large picture book format and lofty metaphors, this title will not likely find many readers among children, yet it offers possibilities for developing classroom discussion and perhaps stimulating writing and art responses to the very timely topic of human/nature relationships.

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