THE GEOGRAPHY OF CHILDHOOD: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabham& Stephen Trimble (Beacon Press: $12; 216 pp; illustrated). The authors of these thoughtful reflections, "hoped to give our children strong and satisfying connections to nature, and we wondered how best to help them make those connections with places and organisms that have not been engineered solely to meet our utilitarian needs." Although they're good friends, Nabham and Trimble seem mismatched as writers. In assured, vigorous prose, Nabham explains how his young son's enthusiasm for lizards changed his own attitudes toward crawly creatures. The warmth of his writing never cloys. In contrast, Trimble, makes obvious choices and veers perilously close to mawkishness in his essays.