Our April Book of the Month is Dear Earth. It is written by Isabel Otter and illustrated by Clara Anganuzzi. Caterpillar Books Ltd, which is an imprint of Little Tiger Press, is the book’s publisher.
Read on to learn more about the book and why I have selected it as our Book of the Month.
Tess’ Letter to the Earth
The main character of the story is Tess, who writes a heartfelt letter to the Earth, inspired by her grandfather, who was once an explorer. This letter sends her on a grand and magical adventure, where she swims with whales, explores lush rainforests, the desert and snow-capped mountains. By using her imagination to explore the world, she deepens her connection to it and also her empathy and compassion.
Dear Earth is a moving book. Anganuzzi’s illustrations beautifully animate Otter’s words, while bringing Tess’ glorious adventure to life.
Connect with the Earth with our imaginations
One of the major reasons why I have selected Dear Earth for this month is that it encourages children to build a heartfelt and personal relationship with our beautiful planet. It invites them to follow wonder and use their imaginations and creativity to develop this relationship. For example, on the final page of the book, which features a blank page with the title ‘Dear Earth’, children are invited to write their own letter. Through the power of their imaginations, children can develop more understanding and empathy for the Earth. This, in turn, can inspire them to do what they can to help the Earth.
We all belong to the Earth
Tess and her grandfather remind us that everyone belongs to the Earth and can be explorers, no matter our background. For this reason also, the book is a must-read for children.
It is important to acknowledge that Tess is a child of colour, who aspires to become an explorer just like her grandfather. I personally feel it is significant that Isabel Otter has cast Tess’ grandfather as an explorer. Tess’ grandfather could be viewed as a representative of minorities who have made invaluable contributions to science throughout history.
The lack of diversity in science is a significant problem that has been highlighted recently by an online movement. As Ryan Lenora Brown (2020) reported last year, ‘racial minorities as a whole make up only 4% of all tenured or tenure-track professors in the top 100 geosciences programs in the U.S.’ The lack of diversity ‘speaks to wider cultural stereotypes about who “belongs” in the outdoors …’ (Leonora Brown 2020).
Scientists of colour have spoken openly about the challenges of studying and working in the field. As a number of scientists have noted, an essential ingredient missing in their childhood was positive role models. Sandra Boitumelo Phoma, who grew up un South Africa and is today completing her PhD in microbial ecology, noted that: ‘When I saw scientists, I saw Einstein. I saw white people. (Lenora Brown 2020).’
Our planet is home to diverse human and non-human species. It is vital that science reflects this diversity and becomes more inclusive.
It is my sincere wish that Tess, along with scientists such as Ms Phoma, will inspire the next generation of ancient explorers and scientists.
Write your own letter to the Earth
Inspired by Tess, Isabel and Clara, I invite you to create your own letter to the Earth. This activity would be a great activity to celebrate World Earth Day on April 22. You can write draw or paint your letter.
And, of course, I would love for you to share your letters with me! For instance, you can tag Ancient Explorer in your letter on Instagram. You can also send them to me (2020). For my mini explorers, please make sure you have the permission of your parents or custodian before you send or upload your letter,
Take a look at the book by watching my flip through review on YouTube Channel. I give thanks to Little Tiger Press for granting me permission to do this review.
Leonora Brown, R. 2020. “Where are the Black geoscientists? Online campaign calls for diversity.” Christian Science Monitor, September 11, 2020.
Text copyright (c) Caterpillar Books Ltd 2020
Illustrations copyright (c) Clara Anganuzzi 2020
All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of Caterpillar Books Ltd, an imprint of The Little Tiger Group.
Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.