Heal the Earth by Julian Lennon had some great ideas and a cool message; however, it was an “almost” book for me. In my opinion, a few, minor adjustments and this book could be so much better!
Heal the Earth has a simple message. The book teaches that through the joint efforts of humanity we can solve our Earth’s biggest problems, such as providing medical care for those in need, saving the rainforests, and stopping global warming. The message is clear and beautifully illustrated, so why did it fall short for me?
Heal the Earth fell short for me in its attempt to be an interactive story. On most of the pages, there was a “button” for the readers to hit to take them on the journey to heal the earth. Through most of the story, the readers were supposed to pretend they were on this plane and it took them to all the places where they could help solve Earth’s problems. Instead of being a true, interactive button, the “button” was just a circle dot on the pages.
When I first read this book with my daughter, I was curious to see how she would respond to the pretend “button.” She complied with the instructions of the book at first. She would push the button when the book told her too, or she would tilt the book up or down when it told her too. However, as soon as she realized nothing actually happened when she complied with the book’s instructions, she was totally over it, and so was I.
My opinion is that if you plan to go with an interactive story for young readers, then make it actually interactive. A circle on the page and instructions in the text to push the circle do not make a book more interesting for young readers.
If the book truly wanted to make it interactive, it needs to have an actual push button on the pages that made noises or provides some additional piece to the story. The book almost would have been better if they wouldn't have even attempted to apply what little interaction it did apply. If interaction pieces are done poorly in a children's book, they just shouldn't be there in the first place. Kids see right through it!