By March Twisdale
If modern scientists are to be believed, when the star we orbit starts to die, it will expand into a red giant, becoming so large that it engulfs Mercury and Venus, and possibly the Earth as well. Until then, life will endure on our planet, and the vast majority of that life will be non-humanoid. We are, inevitably, assuredly, and inescapably temporary dwellers of this pale blue dot. For many people, this is a source of solace. By taking our attention off our own species, and the world as we know it, we are reminded that what matters is life itself, in all its incarnations.
Sharing with our children a sense of hope, wonder, respect, and trust in Mother Nature’s longevity has become a bit trickier lately, as we are increasingly inundated by doomsday predictions. And they’re not all wrong. Even if we suddenly became Vulcans, guided purely by logic and self-restraint – even if we chose to slow down and begin to reverse the damaging effects of the past we’ve still made a pretty big mess. How do we talk about all that with a first-grader?
Thankfully, “The Wump World,” illustrated and written by Bill Peet, is the perfect doorway to conversations with young children. A brilliant children’s book worthy of every family’s bookshelf, this sweet and powerful story speaks to people of all ages, and it ends on a hopeful note!
A pristine world, inhabited by gentle Wumps (creatures closely resembling Capybaras), is discovered by blue people called Pollutians. Soon, the Wumps are driven underground as the Pollutians do what Pollutians do, covering the lush, green world in asphalt, machines, and skyscrapers. Eventually made miserable by their own mess, the Pollutians take off for a new planet, leaving environmental devastation in their wake.
And then, something beautiful happens.
No spoilers here. I’ll leave you to scour used bookstores, your parent’s garage or attic, and the shelves of your friends for a worn out, much-beloved copy … but I will say this: Come what may, life endures almost every challenge. Our mother will survive whatever we throw at her, and she will thrive once again … and again and again and again.