My Friend Earth

h1 April 9th, 2020 by jules


In her newest picture book, the lovingly designed My Friend Earth (Chronicle, February 2020), author Patricia MacLachlan personifies Earth as a girl, just waking from a winter nap. And illustrator Francesca Sanna makes her a brown girl — she is a loving girl who sees everything in nature. She also guides creatures to safety; she tends the earth and its animals; she guards creatures in the ocean; she pours the rain, blows and stills autumn winds, and — once winter returns — “sprinkles the snow.” The story comes full circle when she lies down again in winter for a nap.

Two of the things that makes this book so pleasing — along with MacLachlan’s observant, sensory, lyrical text (which the School Library Journal review fittingly calls “a gift to the ear”) and Sanna’s brisk and energetic artwork — are page flaps and interactive die-cut pages. Die cuts are used sparingly to surprise readers on page turns (in some of the spreads below, the die-cut surprises aren’t always included, but you can get the general idea from what’s pictured there), and the page flaps make for a truly engaging read. On the final spread, for instance, as Earth lies down under a blanket of snow, “waiting,” readers can turn the small flap that is merely her sleeping torso and see, on the other side, a flower blooming in spring. Earth, on this next spread, opens one eye to peek at the flower, because she knows “the warm bright sun of spring” looms. The tops and corners of pages are also curved in spots to represent rolling hills, breaks in ice, waves in water, and even the edge of a leaf in autumn.

Below are some spreads so that the art can do the talking. …


“And the large — the long-winged albatross crossing the sea, the mole tunneling in the underdark. She guides the chimpanzee to her night nest …”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“… and the zebra baby to find his mother
in the hundreds of black-and-white striped mothers.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“She tends the prairie where sun-dappled wild horses run
through grasses that swish against their legs …”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Until she stills the wind,
so red and orange and yellow leaves
float to the ground.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

MY FRIEND EARTH. Text copyright © 2020 by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrations © 2020 by Francesca Sanna and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

One comment to “My Friend Earth

  1. These illustrations are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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