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Hidden under the Ground: The World beneath Your Feet

by Peter Kent

Publishers Weekly : Kent (A Slice Through a City) poses a fascinating question--just what, exactly, lies underground beneath our feet?--and gives a playful, if somewhat slapdash, answer in this picture book for older readers. He begins with a brief introduction that discusses why humans throughout the ages have tunneled under the earth and a page of one-paragraph descriptions of "Subterranean Celebrities" (both historical and mythological). What follows are 11 double-page spreads that present details about underground environments that have existed for centuries (animal and human homes, tombs, mines and dungeons--even legendary "Afterlife Underworlds"), as well as more modern subways, city service systems and nuclear bomb bunkers. Many of the spreads' brief stage-setting introductions include overly broad generalizations and the occasional awkward phrase, and history buffs may wish for dates in several of the factoids (e.g., on the same page, King Wenceslaus's life span is given [903-935], but the completion date of the Mount Cenis railroad tunnel is not). But curious readers are likely to forgive these flaws in their eagerness to pore over Kent's humorously detailed, small-scale subterranean scenes. He invites readers' scrutiny with each spread's picture search ("Rabbits breed like... rabbits. How many rabbits can you find in this picture?") and offers answers at the book's close. Captions and sidebars provide factual tidbits both informative and amusing. Ages 8-12.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 3-5-This easily read and highly pictorial work on a variety of underground landscapes suffers from a flaw common to many foreign imports when it comes to animal life. Similar-looking species may have widely divergent lifestyles when an ocean intervenes. The segment on the "Animal Underworld" depicts a colony of European rabbits (Oryctolagus) living in a communal burrow, or warren, and Eurasian badgers (Meles) in a clannish tunnel system called a sett. American badgers (Taxidea) are loners except during the mating season, and most American rabbits (Sylvilagus) live their entire lives above ground. Aside from that problematical display, Kent's cartoon drawings are appealing and informative and contain Waldoesque elements of searching for rats in a dungeon and enumerating the kings, queens, and knights in a Medieval European vision of hell. Sidebars present extra information on such topics as "Grave Facts" and "Safety in Shelters" (where there is a caption error). While certainly fun to peruse and aimed at a much younger audience than Christie McFall's straightforward America Underground (Cobblehill, 1992; o.p.) and David Macaulay's more tightly focused, top-notch Underground (Houghton, 1976), the variances in the section on subterranean animal life and such overly simplified statements as cave creatures are "...blind because there is no light, so they don't need eyes..." should give one pause.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms