Hello, Earth! Poems to Our Planet

Illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora

 “Earth, we know you can’t answer all our questions in words. You answer in other ways.”

Hello, Earth! is an illustrated collection of poems from humans to Mother Earth. Spoken as a collective “we”—identified in the first poem as “Some of your children—the human ones”—the book opens with the narrator asking if Earth can hear us and if we can ask questions. Each poem that follows is a question and ends with another question. The first few poems reflect on Earth’s past and how our world came to be. Continuing on, the focus shifts to Earth’s natural features. Volcanoes are compared to teeth, “parts of you / that erupt like a new tooth,” and Earthquakes are identified as emotions: “when you’re extra excited, / you lose your rocky grip / and slip.” The poems and the conversation they build celebrate Earth as a sentient being. This leads to questions like “What is it like / to feel / the cool sweep / of the moon?” posed when addressing sunlight and moonlight. Eventually, questions shift to declarations of gratitude for all that Earth does for us, including giving us plants, air, and water: “Out of this [sunlight], / plants make food and air / for us, whether we walk, / fly, slither, or perch. / We live and breathe / because plants / live and breathe. / How clever of you, Earth.” After a celebration of jungles, deserts, mountains, oceans, other ecosystems and their life forms, the poems switch to the role of humans. Acknowledging the mistake of “want[ing] so much for ourselves,” the book stresses that “Earth, / We are part of you. / We are connected. / In taking care of you, / we take care of ourselves.” Asking “Help us remember / the quiet, daily things / we can do,” the poems recognize the ways in which Earth does respond to our questions. For instance, “a crackling thunderstorm shows us how each precious drop of water cycles up and down.” This then brings humans to hope Earth “will always be one step ahead of us.” The book’s closing statements—”You are all we need. / We love you, Earth”—end with the recognition that Earth is our home and we must honor it. The last four openings feature 17 glossary descriptions—Earth’s age, Earth’s size, plate tectonics, etc.—that provide science context for specific poems. This is followed by a resource page and further readings.

Hello, Earth! is a celebration of Earth as a living, sentient, self-regulating entity (see Gaia, vitalism, animism, Pachamama) that creates conditions for and supports all kinds of life (see biodiversity, ecosystems), including humans. For climate literacy instruction, this ecocentric book offers multiple openings to explore Earth’s aliveness, deep time, and the place of humans in today’s climate emergency (see the Anthropocene, human impact). By engaging with the planet with humility and gratitude, Hello, Earth! stresses the need to respect Earth’s planetary limits, appreciate its abundance and the gift of life. “Maybe your answers / are just / what we need / to make us / stop / and look / and think / about how / wondrous you are.” This book would be a great way to introduce ecopoetry to any age in a way that’s accessible, clear, and Earth-centered. For all age groups, the book does a nice job of demonstrating social-emotional skills (see climate emotions, Earth care, CLiCK) such as empathy, caring for other beings, and seeing things from another being’s perspective. In general, this book recognizes all that Earth has done for us and the various ways it communicates with us. In order to keep our planet capable of self-regulation and supporting all life, we must do our part too. Hello, Earth! is truly a book that all ages can enjoy!

©2023 ClimateLit (Amalia Oien)

Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2021

Pages: 68

ISBN: 978-0802855282

Audience: Little People (4-7), Questers (8-13), Rebels (14-older)

Format: Picturebooks, Poetry and Short Stories

Topics: Animism, Anthropocene, Biodiversity, CLICK Framework, Climate Emotions, Deep Time, Earth Care, Earth's Aliveness, Ecocentrism, Ecopoetry, Ecosystems, Empathy, Gaia, Human Impact, Land Care, Limits, Mother Earth, Pachamama, Vitalism