of the Center for Children's Books
|The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based booklist available
as an online-only Bulletin feature. Since we're awfully fond of bakers
here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt their philosophy of generosity
and throw in an extra one or two when we have them to offer--so don't expect
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Beneath Our Feet: Books about What's Underground
--selected by Jeannette Hulick, Reviewer and Editorial Assistant
Many of us go about our daily lives without stopping to consider the
things that exist below the surfaces of the soil and sidewalks. That's
a shame because there's a lot going on under there, from animals digging
burrows, to city trains speeding through tunnels, to miners working to
extract the earth's riches. The books below will surely get kids thinking
about what's going on down there, so be prepared to take a field trip
(real or imaginary) to the subway, sewer, badger hole, or mine. At the
very least, get out the shovels for a little hands-on exploration of the
hidden wonders under our feet.
- Eckert, Allan W. Incident at Hawk's Hill; illus. by John Schoenherr.
Little, 1971. Gr. 7 up
Six-year-old Ben MacDonald gets along better with animals than people. After
wandering away from home, he ends up being "adopted" by a female badger and
living underground with her awhile in this historical novel based on a real
incident. (BCCB 4/72)
- Ehlert, Lois. Mole's Hill; written and illus. by Lois Ehlert.
Harcourt, 1994. 4-7 yrs
Bossy Fox wants little Mole to move her home, claiming that the dirt from
her tunnels blocks the forest animals' path to the pond. Can the animals find
a solution? Ehlert's bright geometric illustrations were inspired by the artwork
of the Woodland Indians of North America. (BCCB 4/94)
- Feiffer, Jules. By the Side of the Road; written and illus. by
Jules Feiffer. di Capua/Hyperion, 2002. Gr. 3-6
Exasperated with young Richard's bad backseat behavior, his dad tells him
to shape up or get out of the car. Richard stubbornly gets out and actually
enjoys his predicament, deciding to make a little home for himself in a roadside
tunnel in this quirky picture book illustrated with black-and-white line drawings.
- Gibbons, Gail. Tunnels; written and illus. by Gail Gibbons. Holiday
House, 1984. Gr. K-2
Gibbons provides a simplified look at tunnels (illustrated with cutaway diagrams),
from the animals and people who create them, to various methods of construction,
to their locations and uses. (BCCB 5/84)
- High, Linda Oatman. Under New York; illus. by Robert Rayevsky.
Holiday House, 2001. 5-8 yrs
What's under New York? Trains, pipes, wires, tunnels, and the odd alligator,
for a start; hip mixed-media illustrations depict what goes on both up on
top and down below in this parallel portrait of urban life. (BCCB 4/01)
- Holman, Felice. Slake's Limbo. Scribner, 1974. Gr. 5-7
Bullied and mistreated, quiet Artemis Slake is a kid who falls through the
cracks, literally, when he discovers a hidden chamber in the subway tunnel
under the Commodore Hotel. Here he resides happily, until subway repairs threaten
to expose him and do away with his hideaway. (BCCB 4/75)
- Macaulay, David. Underground; written and illus. by David Macaulay.
Houghton, 1976. Gr. 5 up
Macaulay explains (in greater technical detail than the above-mentioned Gibbons
title), illustrates, and generally demystifies the construction and workings
of the underground "network of walls, columns, cables, pipes, and tunnels"
that support a city. (BCCB 12/76)
- O'Connor, Jane. The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of
Ancient China. Illus. with photos. Viking, 2002. Gr. 3-7
O'Connor describes the discovery of the famous and mysterious terracotta Chinese
army (made up of thousands of individualized, life-size figurines), giving
historical and cultural background as well as information about how the figures
were constructed. (BCCB 7/02)
- Quattlebaum, Mary. Underground Train; illus. by Cat Bowman Smith.
Doubleday, 1997. 4-7 yrs
A little girl and her mother ride the Washington D.C. Metro train on a visit
to see Grandma. In rhythmic text, the narrator describes what the subterranean
trip is like, while also commenting on the action that takes place above ground:
"above the train, above my head, the busy city spreads." (BCCB 12/97)
- Shusterman, Neal. Downsiders. Simon, 1999. Gr. 6-9
There's a whole other world under the streets of New York: the Downside, secretly
created over the last century and a half in the ruins of a subway. When Downsider
Talon and Topsider Lindsay meet and become friends, it could lead to the exposure
of and destruction of the Downside. (BCCB 9/99)
- Tomecek, Steve. Dirt; illus. by Nancy Woodman. National Geographic,
2002. 5-8 yrs
Tomecek digs up the dirt on dirt, simply explaining the components, layers,
and formation of soil as well as describing its uses and the life forms that
reside in it; a little overall-clad star-nosed mole leads viewers through
the pictures and diagrams. (BCCB 11/02)
- Wallace, Ian. Boy of the Deeps; written and illus. by Ian Wallace.
DK Ink, 1999. 6-9 yrs
This historical picture book depicts young James' first day on the job in
a Nova Scotia coal mine as he joins his dad at work. Things are going fine
until their shaft caves in--will James' first day in the mines be his last?
- Waring, Richard. Alberto the Dancing Alligator; illus. by Holly
Swain. Candlewick, 2002. 5-8 yrs
Tina and her alligator pet/buddy Alberto enjoy tangoing together until poor
Alberto accidentally falls in the toilet and ends up in the sewers under the
city. Humor ensues as Alberto tries to find his way back home, popping up
in one wrong toilet after another. (BCCB 11/02)
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This page was last updated on October 1, 2002.