cover image Cave


Diane Siebert. HarperCollins Children's Books, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16447-8

Poetry flows from Siebert's (Mojave; Heartland) pen as she once again personifies a natural setting: ""I am the cave,/ So cool and dark,/ Where time, unending, leaves its mark/ As natural forces build and hone/ A crystal world from weeping stone."" Tracing the history of limestone caves from their origins as ocean beds to their many beautiful formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites, helictites and flowstone, she also observes the creatures who inhabit them. Trogloxenes such as snakes, porcupines and skunks ""feed outside/ But venture in to rest, to hide,"" while troglophiles such as the salamander and wingless cricket ""remain within where they can shun/ All hint of day, all trace of sun."" Siebert conveys a sense of astonishment at the cave's many wonders, her verse as informative as it is lyrical. McLoughlin's (Here Is the Wetland) acrylics offer an impressive balance between the eerie magnetism of the cave's inner workings and the almost surreal effect of emerging from the darkness to the outside world. This volume serves as a spelunker's delight and a novice's introduction. All ages. (Aug.)