Twenty-one poems that center on the uncommon idea of things “underground.”
On the cover, a black girl has her ear to the ground beside the roots of a large tree while a white boy cocks his head and listens. The premise of the collection is to encourage children to explore what is under their feet using imagination and wonder. Poems include a variety of forms from terse haiku to a ballad. Whether playful or serious, each poem honors the ability of young readers to navigate syntax, imagery, and wordplay. “Seeds,” for example, spins a literary conceit: “This dot, / this spot, / this period at the end / of winter’s sentence / writes its way up / through the dull slate of soil / into the paragraph of spring.” Yolen’s treatment of the underground is expansive, exploring natural subjects as well as a cellar, a subway, and the underpinnings of a city, and buried treasures from pirates’ to fossils. Masse’s mixed-media illustrations portray the imaginary points of view with aplomb, placing the same two children from the cover in settings both realistic and fanciful. In the backmatter, Yolen offers discursive notes on each poem, expanding on the science presented and her various inspirations.
A thoughtful exploration of nature expressed in poetry that should open the eyes of children to unseen worlds. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)