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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who Will Save My Planet? by Maria Cristina Urrutia. Tundra, 2012. $11.99 ages 3 and up

No words could adequately describe the beauty of the photographs that show what is being done to our world today, and what it could be if we care for it for the future. In this 32 page book of well- chosen, clear and spectacular images we can learn much, without one written word.

There are 14 pairs of photographs. As we begin our 'reading' on the left hand side, we see fire burning on a treed hillside and smoke rising to obscure much of the view. On the right side we see verdant foliage, brilliantly green in warm sunshine. The message is strong and will be interpreted differently according to the age and knowledge of the reader. Young ones may just see it as a forest fire and worry at its power. Older children, knowing that lush acres are burned off to open up land for farming while pushing its natural inhabitants further afield, will see it from a totally different perspective.

Each set of photos is equally stunning, leaving much room for discussion. A man with a chainsaw fells a tree, while another digs gently into soft earth to plant something new. A captive parrot sits caged while its identical partner sits atop an evergreen in the wild. A polluted and motionless water pond pales in comparison to light dappled rocks shining through a free flowing waterfall. A rocky beach is strewn with the dead bodies of large turtles while another swims freely in a cool blue ocean environment. Plants dead or dying in a polluted pond while greenery finds vibrant life in a clear, clean stream. A proud and elegant seal trapped around the neck by a discarded garbage ring while another, with the same proud demeanor, gleams in brilliant sunshine. A smoky forest filled with downed and blackened trees faces sunlight scattered over the ferns and lush greenery of a healthy forest. A lethargic, uninterested lion lying on a bed of cement while another dashes for food in its natural environment. Sawed lumber and sawdust lying strewn about a green park while the healthy canopy of a large and leafy tree invites neck-wrenching adoration, perhaps in that same park. A glassy-eyed jaguar rug stares blindly while  its regal and very much alive counterpart stares languidly from the cool leafy floor of its natural home. A cracked and weedy sidewalk with tree stumps sticking up through patchy earth while a tree-lined shaded pathway invites peaceful walks and companionship. An oh so familiar garbage-strewn hillside allows the wind to take it hither and yon while a full trash can awaits the truck that will transport it to a landfill or recycling center. Finally, the back endpapers show six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic polluting the air around while a lone cyclist zips past the camera's lens.

Not much to say, is there? It is a book that will inspire deep conversation when shared and it will open the minds of children to some of the simple and effective ways one person can make a difference in our world. Depending on the age group sharing this frank and hopeful book, that conversation could lead to many new discoveries and actions.

With Earth Day just over a month away, it is a perfect buy.

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