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. Perspectives shift from a robin gazing from a tree to the ground, the earth’s surface and then below. The bird pulls a worm from its hole, ants crawl, grubs lie snug, and carrots grow sturdy and straight. In turn, a rabbit munches contentedly while a mole passes underneath. Other spreads depict yellow jackets, chipmunks and the dog burying its bone. Inventive language introduces readers to “[s]quirm-ways / and worm-ways.” 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. In a satisfying conclusion, the tree has been planted, carrots picked, and the text circles back to where it began: “Low down. / Way down. / Under ground.” 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. (Picture book. 2-6)