Earth’s geologic wonders illustrated and crystallized through haiku.
From up-and-coming illustrator Grill and seasoned nonfiction author Walker comes an intriguing collaboration exploring Earth’s makeup. Though choosing one of the sparest verse forms, Walker manages to capture this planet’s rich geologic features while simultaneously introducing tricky vocabulary with a specificity middle-grade readers can yet relate to: “fragile outer crust, / shell around mantle and core — / Earth: a hard-boiled egg.” Focused on haiku’s concentrated descriptive aims, Walker crafts exciting characterizations of literally explosive acts, such as a volcanic eruption—“hotheaded mountain / loses its cool, spews ash cloud — / igneous tantrum”—along with informative prose endnotes, which include vivid descriptions of phenomena such as magma, “toothpaste-thick, fiery-hot melted rock,” and engaging scientific facts. Throughout the collection, Walker’s pithy portraits are accompanied by Gill’s trademark colored-pencil illustrations, here expressively and somewhat abstractly rendered in muted tones, and this, perhaps, is where the work misses its mark. Given the ravishing detail presented in but a few syllables in these suggestive haiku and the fuller explanations provided at volume’s end, Walker’s thematic intentions might have been better served by an illustrative medium that more realistically shows what, for example, stalactites or “swirly pahoehoe” lava actually look like.
In all, a provocative verse introduction to what lies on and deep below the Earth’s surface. (further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 8-13)