cover image UnderGROUND


Denise Fleming. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5882-6

In this evocative ode to nature, Fleming returns to the backyard turf of In the Tall, Tall Grass and In the Small, Small Pond, but digs deeper—literally—to explore the teeming life found “Low down./ Way down./ Under ground.” In some ways, the book functions as a pared-down summertime companion to Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal’s Over and Under the Snow (2011): Fleming’s scenes simultaneously depict what’s underneath and just above the ground; created via her trademark “pulp painting” process, the spreads have a marbled texture, and are rendered in bright sky blues, vibrant grassy greens, and the warm brown-reds of soil. Spiders and salamanders scamper on rocks and between blades of grass, pink earthworms and a chubby toad navigate “Squirm-ways and worm-ways” in the dirt, a fox peeks from an underground den, and ants march through tunnels. All the while, a curious boy watches the activity and tends to his plants. Fleming’s luminous scenes invite close inspection and creature-spotting, and a key at book’s end contains facts on more than 20 featured animals. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)