Monday, February 23

Review: "An Earth Child's Book of the Year"

Introduction

An Earth Child's Book of the Year is the perfect addition to any Pagan family's home library.  All ages (even adults!) will appreciate the flowing story and scavenger-hunt style illustrations.  The books are published by the author, with the help of CreateSpace (formerly at Friesen Press), and distributed via Earth Child Books.

The Earth Child website is a kind of home-base for all of the books in the Earth Child series.   There is a wealth of free information available that moves beyond the books and into the Earth Folk realm.  Personally, I have pinned the site for future use during homeschooling.

The book is a simple, paperback piece with about 30 pages.  It is the size of your average coloring book.  The book was gifted to us by the author, herself.  She graciously donated a copy for us to feature in our very first giveaway, so the entire process of pouring over this book has been exciting!  Of course, even though this book was sent to us for review, my opinions of the book remains my own. 
 
Marian Louise Camden is a child psychologist and faery lover.  Her knowledge of seasonal correspondence and her admiration of the Fae shine through her writing.  She has woven a gorgeous tapestry of earth and sun on these pages.

Diane Beem Wright, the illustrator, has filled these pages with adorable color pencil illustrations that are soft, yet bright.  They encompass the feel of each month's focus and brings the seasons to life on the page.  The details truly made this book.  

The Story

The Earth Children live in a tiny cottage in the woods, in the village of the Earth Folk.  The central  story flows from January's Ice Moon to December's Moon of Content, allowing us to follow the children as they draw, read, dream, play with puppies, and weave flowers together.  While they celebrate the changing of the seasons, we also get to see what's happening in the Earth Folk village.  Plants are blooming, animals are growing, apples are being plucked from the trees, and herbs are being sold.  

Coinciding with the Earth Children's daily activities, we hear the story of "a brave young man" living amongst the Earth Folk.  This boy is different from the other children as his actions play out the wheel of the year.  The golden haired boy searches for his bride, helps to bring in the harvest, and is reborn in the winter.     

Ideology

While the author tells us that she draws inspiration from the ancient religion of the Celtic peoples, the moon names are drawn from multiple cultures from around the world.  The correspondences given for each month and moon, such as the names of trees, flowers, and gemstones, are summarized from European neo-Paganism.  


The book also casually follows the neo-Pagan "Wheel of the Year", first written about by Gerald Gardner.  It is generally recognized that Gardner and many authors who followed in his footsteps, syncretically created the neo-Pagan sabbat calendar from many cultures across Europe and the Mediterranean. 


What I Loved

  • The stand out feature of the book is the illustrations.  The seek-and-find aspect will have children pouring over this book for hours.  There are faces hidden in the trees and gems hidden in flames.  We still haven't found everything.  It's highly enjoyable.

  • The pace and structure fits chapter readers and new readers alike.  While there is an evolving story surrounding the God-character (the brave boy) that children with longer attention spans will enjoy, this book can be harnessed month-by-month for early readers as well.
  • I thought that the inclusion of some American secular holidays was a nice touch.  While some Pagans include Groundhog's Day into their Imbolc celebrations, not all do.  Thanksgiving is also alluded to in November.  
  • Highly descriptive.  Each sentence is packed with items of note for the corresponding season and month.
  • The cycle of death and rebirth is not glossed over.  Even in the Pagan community, we still shield children from death, even though it is a vital life cycle and a core part of our beliefs.  This book involves the loss of the God and acknowledges the process of mourning.


What Could Have Been Better

  • The text is printed in a fancy wave pattern to match the illustrated scroll frames on each page.  This is the same on the cover of the book.  While it works wonderfully on the cover to create flow, I found myself having to mark the line I was reading with my finger to keep my place.  What is a small inconvenience for an adult or teen could be a huge roadblock for a grade schooler or beginning reader.


Summary

Bottom line... we LOVED this book.  It is a wealth of information on many levels and works well for all ages.  Young children can study the pictures, older children can read the story, and adults can appreciate the work as a whole.  This book will be used year round in our home and I encourage you to order one, too!

Have you read 'An Earth Child's Book of the Year'?  Did you love it as much as we did?  Feel free to leave us a comment below.

2 comments:

  1. I love the suggestions on pagan-friendly kids books. I am always looking for more so appreciate people sharing some when they find them!

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  2. Thank you for your thorough, honest, and open-hearted review of An Earth Child's Book of the Year. It's been great to see more people visiting earthchildbooks.com, purchasing books, and appreciating this chance to share the great Wheel of the Year with their children. I hope you will take a look at the second book in the Earth Child series, called an Earth Child's Book of Verse. This book is filled with poetry and song to accompany each of the twelve moons of the year. Check it out at https://www.createspace.com/4423444. Also, please note that the Earth Child books are no longer published through Friesen Press, great as those folks were, but through CreateSpace. CS is more affordable, still great quality. Finally, hope you are enjoying a beautiful autumn and anticipating a very special Samhain. Warm wishes from Marian Camden, Psy.D.

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