Beach Lane Books, Hardcover, 9781442458826, 32pp.
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Discover the down and dirty secrets of underground creatures in this vibrant picture book from a Caldecott Honor medalist.
What young child doesn’t love playing in the dirt? And who hasn’t wondered what goes on in the lives of all the creatures who live underground?
Celebrated Caldecott Honor medalist Denise Fleming applies her signature bold and bright pulp-paper-collage style to a universal childhood topic in this dynamic, rhythmic book that’s just right for reading aloud—and comes complete with a detailed glossary.
“The earth beneath children’s feet is teeming with activity if only they look. In this engaging backyard exploration, the art provides a narrative frame: A boy and his dog are planting a tree. Brief, rhythmic text invites youngsters to examine the labyrinth “[l]ow down. / Way down. / Under ground.” Fleming’s pulp-painting technique is used to best advantage to capture the textures of coarse dirt, pebbles, roots and tunnels, and every page-turn offers full-spread cutaway views…. Children who look closely will also find those lost treasures that are always so much fun to dig up—a key, a coin, a toy car and more…. A spread entitled Creature Identification provides more information about each of the critters, completing the book. Validation for every kid who's ever picked up a trowel to explore the wonders underground.”
—Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2012
“Bursting with her signature bold color and textured pulp paintings, Fleming’s latest tour de force affords an immersion into the backyard world below our feet. Economical and descriptive, the rhythmic text pairs with cross-section illustrations of the myriad creatures that burrow, dig, and funnel their way underneath the earth’s surface. Revealed amid the nests and tunnels, too, are other (and oft amusing) forms of subterranean deposits: seeds, root vegetables, old tools, keys, dog bones. Young readers will spot a connecting narrative arc in the artwork as a young boy helps plant and water a new cherry tree. An illustrated “Creature Identification” index is appended, offering concise information about the underground habits of the wildlife. A first-rate picture book on every level and made-to-order for group sharing, this title reveals the fascinating “squirm-ways and worm-ways” found in the natural world.”
—School Library Journal, August 2012
“Fleming invites youngsters to observe underground creatures, large and small, as well as their tunnels, burrows, food sources, and activities…while the few words on the pages may compel readers to flip quickly through the book, the gorgeous images invite lingering contemplation. Fleming’s pulp-painting collage illustrations are rich with texture and color: soft green leaves, fuzzy white roots, and grainy brown soil. The pages hum with life and activity…. Kids who spend time with this book will want to get their hands dirty to investigate for themselves what life is like for these fascinating underground creatures.”
—Horn Book Magazine, September/October 2012
“In this evocative ode to nature, Fleming returns to the backyard turf of In the Tall, Tall Grass and In the Small, Small Pond, but digs deeper—literally—to explore the teeming life found “Low down./ Way down./ Under ground.”… Fleming’s scenes simultaneously depict what’s underneath and just above the ground; created via her trademark “pulp painting” process, the spreads have a marbled texture, and are rendered in bright sky blues, vibrant grassy greens, and the warm brown-reds of soil…. Fleming’s luminous scenes invite close inspection and creature-spotting, and a key at book’s end contains facts on more than 20 featured animals.”