The Dirt Book: Poems About Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet

Holiday House. Jun. 2021. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823438617.
Gr 2-4–A beautifully illustrated collection of poetry that highlights animals that live underground. Each double-page spread has a poem on one side and a complementary drawing on the other, making this title a lovely addition to nature-focused poetry collections. The book opens with a fact box about dirt, explaining how some dirt is millions of years old and that it can take hundreds of years for an inch of dirt to accumulate. There is no information about the geology or composition of dirt or an explanation of the difference between dirt and soil. The main focus is the animals that live in dirt, from earthworms and spiders to toads and moles, and descriptions of their connection to dirt. The poems vary in length and format, from concrete to humorous, but offer few facts about the animals. Especially fun and descriptive is the earthworm: “Earthworm squiggles, earthworm squirms, earthworm dines on dirt and germs.” The best part of this title is the gorgeous illustrations, done with colored pencils and digital tools. Realistic and creative, they offer more information about the animals than the poems. Readers of many ages will enjoy poring over the illustrations and observing all the details. The book has notes at the end: Brief paragraphs on each animal with some characteristics and a short bibliography that offers little beyond acknowledging that the information about each animal is accurate.
VERDICT If your nature poetry section needs freshening and your readers enjoy bugs and other creepy-crawlies, this would be a nice addition to your collection.

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