CHILDREN'S BOOKS: 'Dear World: How Children Around the World Feel About Our Environment': Bodley Head, 9.99

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The Independent Culture
The illustration above, by Poppy Edmunds (9), is from Dear World: How Children Around the World Feel About Our Environment (Bodley Head pounds 9.99). Editor Lannis Temple actually visited the 40 countries from which he gathered these children's writings and paintings. Environment is certainly the international theme - most children know about toxic waste ages before they know about long division; here, childrenfrom the wised-up, squeaky-clean Netherlands, say, express very similar emotions to those of a child in one of the pollution black-spots of the former Soviet Union, or a threatened paradise like Dominica.

Nature-worship can easily evoke both the saccharine and the ridiculous. Are our children learning mere lip-service to the cause (using gallons of hot water to wash out one small plastic carton for re- use, for instance)? There is plenty of schmaltz, it's true, in this volume, but our cynicism is disarmed by the evidence that children everywhere really do want to Save the Planet - even if, like Annelies Polley (10), they sound like a deodorant advert: 'Countries should be so embarrassed,' she writes, 'if they got smog.'

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