Treasure: Earth Mother

I’ve discovered I like sharing our delicious children’s books, so here is another one I treasure.

Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson

Earth Mother by Ellen Jackson is the gentle story of the goddess going through her daily routine of tending to the earth and the earth’s creatures.

"She fanned sacred smoke in each of the four directions."

With dignity and great reverence, she nurtures even those things that seem insignificant, giving the beetles shiny jackets and sharpening the thorn bushes. She brings the rain and cradles the otter in a tangle of seaweed, rocking him on the waves.

"Bending low, she placed a piece of summer in a flower's seed."

“Bending low, she placed a piece of summer in a flower’s seed.”

"She spangled a tree with fireflies."

“She spangled a tree with fireflies. She spread spiderweb lace on the grass.”

I love the illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon, award-winning (Hugo Award and Caldecott Medal among others) illustrators who have been married for five decades and collaborating and making art together all that time. In this story, Earth Mother is radiant on every page; the patterns in her clothing change with every scene, sometimes they are geometric, other times feature frogs or mosquitoes or men. Flowers break out of the square frames on every page. But the real test of any picture-book illustration is whether it supports the author’s story and theme. The Dillons accomplish this brilliantly, in my opinion.

Along her way, Earth Mother meets a man, a frog, and a mosquito. Each of them complains bitterly about one of the other two, and gives thanks for the abundance of the third. Each would like her to rebalance their proportions.

“Thank you, Earth Mother,” said Frog. “Mosquito and her sisters fill my belly and give me life. But why have you sent Man to catch and eat me? Man is bad, bad, bad. Sweet, delicious Mosquito, on the other hand, makes me happy. If there were more mosquitoes and no men, this world would be perfect.”

The interconnectedness and interdependence of the three creatures is beautifully explored. All the while, Earth Mother maintains her calm serenity, simply sighing because they do not see how perfect the earth already is.

3 Responses to “Treasure: Earth Mother”

  • The Tan Family
    June 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Oh, I haven’t seen this one! What a treasure. Thank you for featuring it. I’m going to have to find a copy. 🙂


  • pussreboots
    June 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I’m adding the book to my wishlist. It looks lovely.


  • Sara
    June 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Glad to inspire other book lovers! Thanks for stopping by!


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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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