Earth Day was a little over one week ago. At some point on that day, I sat down with my toddler daughter and read to her some poems from the new book* All the Wild Wonders: Poems of our Earth, edited by Wendy Cooling with illustrations by Piet Grobler (London: Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, 2015, 45 pp.). At just two years old, I don’t know if any of the words from the poems sunk in, but she was loving the vibrant artwork portraying children, plants, animals, and landscapes from all over the world. The collection of poems is geared toward children the age of my other child, my nine-year-old son. Cooling notes that her collection of poems both celebrates the beauty of our natural world but calls attention to the dangers being pressed upon it. Perhaps, she writes, “just one of the poems lingers in your mind long after the book has been put down.” Her goal is to stir interest in action among young readers.
The first poem, from which the collection draw its title, “All the Wild Wonders,” is a simple wish that the best gift of all one could receive is to share the world with its plants and animals, but “For this wish to come true / We have much work to do.” Several poems celebrate the sun while those following speak of the importance of trees. One of the shortest poems in the book, “Question” by Tony Chen, says so much in so few lines:
As asphalt and concrete
Replace bushes and trees,
As highways and buildings
Replace marshes and woods,
What will replace
The song of the birds?
“Snagger’s Pond” tells of work done to clean and restore a local pond, while “I Watched an Eagle Soar” shows the power of nature experiences to retain a place in our hearts and minds. From poems about wind and one about a tiger to several about whales and another about a person’s small but important role in “it all,” this collection of thirty-six poems provides a variety of ways for kids to think about our planet and how we affect it. Grobler’s watercolor illustrations are colorful and lively and complement the poems.
* This is a new edition; the collection was originally published in 2010.