Illustrated by Barbara Di Lella.
Volume 14 Number 1
Atmosfear, as the title suggests, does indeed scare children about the very air they breathe. Writing in rhyme, o huigin begins this tale with the warning that something not very nice lurks beneath the ice at the south pole. He goes on to describe a horrid monster that is trapped there and then tells his listeners that human-made pollution is making the air warmer and melting the monster's icy prison . Once the monster is free, humanity is doomed, and so o huigin urges his readers to find "another way / a kinder way to / treat the world." The full-page illustrations, some black and white, some watercolours, are by Canadian artist Barbara Di Lella, and they visually highlight the poem's doom-and-gloom message.sean o huigin is well known for his workshops and readings in schools across North America. In 1984, he became the first poet to receive the Canada Council Children's Literature prize for his book The Ghost Horse of the Mounties (Black Moss, 1983). This new tale is a natural follow-up to his "Acid Rain" poem (from the collection, Scary Poems for Rotten Kids ¹), which has been made into a film and is being released by the National Film Board. Certainly, o huigin is concerned about the effects of industrial pollution; he has dedicated Atmosfear "to the future of the world." But while I agree with the importance of the issue, I think the message should be aimed at adults, not children. I cannot see the point of inculcating the fear of air pollution in youngsters when the problem is so hugely beyond their control.
Patricia Fry, Toronto, ON.
¹ Reviewed vol. Xl/4 July 1983, p. 169.
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