Three by Joseph Cornell

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1995:

Sharing Nature With Children (1979) 138 pages, $7.95 paperback.
Listening To Nature (1987) 95 pages, $12.95 paperback.
Sharing the Joy of Nature (1989) 166 pages, $9.95 paperback.
All from Dawn Publications
(14618 Tyler Foote Road, Nevada City, CA 95959.)
As revered scoutmaster to the
New Age, Joseph Cornell has sold more
than 300,000 copies of Sharing Nature With
Children over the past 15 years, plus more
than 60,000 copies of the companion vol-
ume for adults, Listening to Nature, since
1987. Any notion that Cornell’s third
touchy-feely nature how-to may be titled to
remind customers of The Joy of Sex is offset
by his ever-so-sincere account of taking a
young lady camping, who forgot her sleep-
ing bag. Cornell gallantly lent her his own
sleeping bag, and slept in two plastic
garbage sacks instead: one over his feet and
legs, the other over his torso, presumably
with a hole for his head. The sacks came 10
inches short of actually meeting, but
Cornell doesn’t mention what was exposed
or if it got cold.

Cornell is nothing if not embar-
rassingly sincere. Perhaps that’s why he
gets away with teaching techniques that
could get most of us arrested––like having
children lie down, close their eyes, and let
bugs run over them. It apparently works––
above the fire ant belt. He also likes to take
children outside blindfolded, holding a
rope. That works just fine, too, in the
absence of steep cliffs, traffic, and dog
poop. One of his very favorite expeditions
started out by getting a group of inner city
adolescents hopelessly lost. Lacking
overnight gear, they slept, sort of, in one
big writhing heap. It will surprise no one
that Cornell is very big on hugging trees.
Nor should anyone be surprised
that each new Cornell book is bigger and
thicker than the one preceding it, with larg-
er type, more photos, and more repetition
of the same few basic ideas about sitting
still to encourage the approach of wildlife,
being attentive to plants and insects, and
using role-playing to get children to think
about the lives of animals. If you think you
need to learn to teach kids to play make-
believe, Cornell’s your man.
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