Thunder Underground

Anyone who has ever marveled at the intricate tunnels of an ant farm or dreamed of archeological adventure will revel in this wondrous, thunderous picture book of 21 poems by Jane Yolen (Owl Moon; the How Do Dinosaurs series; Birds of a Feather; Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems). Thunder Underground mines the Earth for its riches, from tree roots to rabbit warrens, subways to lost cities.

There's a whole world underneath our feet, and in the wonder of that discovery lies the magma-hot core of this fine collection. Here, a curious young black girl with a treasure map and her shovel-toting white friend put their ears to the ground, rummage in the basement, dig for pirate gold and crawl through caves--all in happy pursuit of what is "under." (The first poem, "Under," examines the root word in "underground" and "understand.") In poems like "Seeds," Yolen's words flow like an underground river and beg to be read aloud: "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."

"Scientific and personal" notes contain gems: corn roots emit sounds that can be recorded; moles keep larders of earthworms for snacking purposes. Josée Masse (the illustrator of Marilyn Singer's Mirror Mirror and Echo Echo) artfully reflects the grand scope of Earth from the inside out in colorful mixed-media compositions, while zeroing in on kid-friendly details. The eye-opening, ear-opening Thunder Underground echoes the power of the rumbling, ever-changing Earth beneath ground level. --Karin Snelson, freelance writer and editor

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