Review By CAROLYN M. MULLIN
The text and illustrations in Ellen Jackson’s Earth Mother are a dramatic change of pace in light of the more action-packed page-turners I’ve been reading. To be honest, the tone and tempo are polar opposites of the hurried lifestyles we all tend to lead these days. You almost have to be in the right state of mind to read this picture book. Here are a few of my suggestions on when and how to enjoy Earth Mother:
1) Use it as a bedtime story by capitalizing on the serene, calming nature of the main character, Earth Mother, who after visiting and caring for her natural creations (sage-dotted deserts, whale-filled oceans, snow-powdered forests), falls asleep on the last page. If the book was able to put me in a “I’m ready for a nap” mood, it should do the same for your kids.
2) Since the text isn’t very dynamic, I’d suggest framing a discussion around the cycle of life. The only plot really taking place besides Earth Mother making her rounds, is that of the mosquito, frog and man all thanking and complaining to Earth Mother about their and others’ food supply (mosquito biting man, man eating frog and frog savoring mosquito). Good opportunity to promote veganism since we don’t hurt animals in the dietary process!
3) In the end and as night descends, Earth Mother essentially ignores the complaints from her three constituents, because, she concludes, “the world, in its own way, was perfect.” She gets the earth ready for bed by “[spangling] a tree with fireflies” and spreading “spiderweb lace on the grass.” If you have a budding poet in the family, they may garner some insight and inspiration from Jackson’s writing.
4) As for the images, they have an art nouveau quality that I absolutely love. Young artists would do well to analyze Leo and Diane Dillon’s watercolor and colored pencil illustrations.
All in all, this book was not only wholesome and beautiful, but a unique way to escape from modernity.