From the moment you hold The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals that Live Beneath Our Feet (Holiday House, 2021) in your hands, you realize that this is a unique picture book. After all, how many books do you turn 90 degrees in order to read it? I can only think of one other, Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, which my (now) adult children enjoyed as kids!
In fact, the award-winning author of The Dirt Book, David L. Harrison, admitted that the brilliant design concept was worked out between his editor and the artist, Kate Cosgrove (scroll down to her October 13th post). "It was a delightful surprise to see the finished book," David said.
If you haven't yet seen this STEM poetry book, you might wonder what I'm so excited about. The reader's experience is enhanced by poems and images that begin at the top of the page and are carried through to the bottom--which shows what is going on in the dirt. And of course, since David is a poet, he uses different types of poetry to highlight these critters.
The book begins with a dirt recipe:
(Parents beware: your children may want to try and duplicate this recipe in your backyard!)
What creatures are found in the dirt?
Readers will meet a doodlebug who creates dirt funnels so that ants slide in and become their lunch; a trap door spider,
and an earthworm who performs dirty work:
earthworm dines on
dirt and germs.
dear wet leaves.
Under our feet are ants that build cities, grubs which kill grass (the immaculate-lawn owner's nemesis!), mice, moles, bees, toads, and... Warning! Warning! Yellow Jacket Wasps.
I love this ending spread with a form of a Tristitia poem:
If you are interested in reading David's inspiration for this book and what he hopes readers will take away from it, please see this interview on Deborah Kalb's blog.