Sunday, January 22, 2006

On Earth

Karas, G. Brian. 2005. ON EARTH. New York: Putnam. ISBN 039924025X [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

Karas explains complicated scientific topics in an easily understandable style both visually and textually in answer to the never-ending question, “Why?” Topics such as rotation, axis, gravity, and seasons are all covered here in exquisite simplicity. The content is both direct and personal. The title could easily have been “Our Earth.” In a lovely double-page spread there are several children walking through the shade of trees and one boy who has emerged into the bright sunlight. His eyes are closed and the soft light shines in his face, sunflowers in the foreground. The others are still in shade walking together: girls holding hands, a boy twirling a basketball: “We face the sun, / its light and warmth, / as we live our days.” The soft palate of yellows, greens, and blues feels reassuring and comforting.

The watercolor illustrations are kid-friendly and inviting. Often Karas includes colored pencil marks that look like a child’s scribbling, but he has worked them into his paintings in such a natural way that they make his art appear more childlike but do not distract from the overall design. He provides many diagrams to enhance the scientific concepts that he is presenting. An illustrated glossary is included in the back with highlighted vocabulary words in bold type. The design is well thought-out and beautifully presented with enchanting cover art and end pages the colors of morning and evening skies.

Invite children to sit in a circle around a large round, lit flashlight to represent the sun. Select a child to be the earth and carry another flashlight tilting it towards the sun as their classmates recite the spring and summer months of the year and away from the sun for autumn and winter months as the child slowly walks around the sun. Try this activity for a special birthday treat.

By the same author:
Karas, G. Brian. ATLANTIC. Putnam. ISBN 0399236325

By Cay Geisler

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