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Children's Nonfiction General

Earth Magic

by (author) Dionne Brand

illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2006
Recommended Age
10 to 14
Recommended Grade
5 to 9
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2006
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Inspired by her childhood in Trinidad, acclaimed poet and writer Dionne Brand conjures the world of the Caribbean in her first book of poetry for children. The sounds and smells of market day, the blazing sun, the joyful beat of much-awaited rain and a girl who dares to do better. These are just some of the stories and characters brought into focus in this captivating collection of poems.

Originally published in 1979, these poems are an eloquent, unsparing tribute to the lives of the Caribbean people and the power of nature. Simple chants and schoolyard skipping songs alongside more sophisticated poems reveal a place of beauty and hardship where life moves in harmony with the elements. With vibrant collage paintings and poignant line drawings by Eugenie Fernandes, Earth Magic will cast a spell over readers of all ages.

About the authors


Dionne Brand is internationally known for her poetry, fiction, and essays. She has received many awards, notably the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Trillium Award (Land to Light On), 1997), the Pat Lowther Award (Thirsty, 2005), the City of Toronto Book Award (What We All Long For, 2006), and the Harbourfront Festival Award (2006), given in recognition of her substantial contribution to literature. She is a professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Leslie C. Sanders is a professor at York University, where she teaches African American and Black Canadian literature. She is the author of The Development of Black Theatre in America, the editor of two volumes of Langston Hughes’s performance works, and a general editor of the Collected Works of Langston Hughes. She has written essays on African American and Black Canadian literature.


Dionne Brand's profile page

Née en 1943, près de New York, EUGÉNIE FERNANDES puise son admiration pour les animaux et la nature dans les souvenirs de son enfance. Son inspiration, elle la doit en grande partie à son père, illustrateur de bandes dessinées, avec qui elle passait de longues heures dans son studio. En 1965, elle obtient son diplôme de l'école des Arts Visuels de New York et commence alors sa carrière en tant qu'illustratrice. Eugenie a écrit ou illustré plus de 80 livres dont Grosse journée, petite souris! et Caféolait s'en va-t-en ville. Elle vit aujourd'hui dans le sud de l'Ontario et travaille depuis sa maison dans son studio surplombant un lac et la forêt environnante.



EUGENIE FERNANDES loved exploring the outdoors and making her own little books when she was young. As an adult she has combined these interests by creating books such as Ribbon Rescue, The Tree that Grew to the Moon, Waves in the Bathtub, One More Pet, and Grandpa Dan's Toboggan Ride.



Eugenie is part of a very artistic family. Her father was a comic book illustrator, her husband, Henry Fernandes, is a picture book illustrator who collaborated with her on the book Ordinary Amos and the Amazing Fish, and her two children are also artists. Eugenie lives near Peterborough, Ontario, where she works in a studio that is surrounded by water and woods.


Eugenie Fernandes' profile page


  • Short-listed, Golden Oak Award
  • Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award, children's illustration, Canada Council for the Arts

Librarian Reviews

Earth Magic

Kids Can Press took a leap of faith a few years ago and began to match classic poems with contemporary Canadian illustrators. Their gamble paid off. Jabberwocky, the first title published under their KCP Poetry imprint, garnered several honours, including the Governor General’s Award for Stéphane Jorisch’s edgy, postmodern illustration. It is heartening to see the publisher add to its poetry program with this collection by Dionne Brand.

Earth Magic was previously published, by Kids Can in the late 1970s. The earlier version was a modest paperback with black and white illustrations. How right the publisher was to reintroduce this splendid collection to a new generation of readers. The poems in Earth Magic harken back to Brand’s childhood in Trinidad. They are beautifully wrought, suggestive of island life – though not a romantic or nostalgic look back – as seen through the eyes of a child. Nature, the community, and a young girl’s yearning are subjects that Brand explores. In the poem “Wind”, is it the wind speaking or a girl speaking metaphorically? “I pulled a hummingbird out of the sky one day/ but let it go.” “I became a breeze, bored and tired,/ and hovered and hung and rustled and lay/ where I could.” It is a wonderful image and a poignant commentary on life.

Veteran illustrator Eugenie Fernandes has delivered a stunning series of visual images to accompany Brand’s words. Colour shimmers on every page. Aqua blue and sun-drenched yellow dominate, though there is much more to delight the eye. The line is loose and fluid. Many of the images are startling and offer darker undertones than the bright colours suggest. Fernandes digs deeper to uncover all the nuance of meaning. These two artists are well-matched.

Kudos to Kids Can Press. With Earth Magic the publisher has delivered another exceptional book of poetry for young readers.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2006. Vol.29 No. 3.

H Earth Magic

Simple chants, skipping songs and more sophisticated poems celebrate Caribbean life. First published in 1979, this striking new edition features vibrant paintings and line drawings.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

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