cover image Leaf Litter Critters

Leaf Litter Critters

Leslie Bulion, illus. by Robert Meganck. Peachtree, $14.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-56145-950-6

“Between soil’s grains of weathered rock,/ Beneath its veiny leaves in scraps,/ Amid its ribs of rotting sticks,/ Soil’s litter critters find the gaps,” begins Bulion’s 19-poem exploration of tiny and sometimes microscopic creatures that rarely find themselves the subject of a poem. Among them are comma-size proturans (“We eat debris/ from forest floors,/ like rotting plants/ and fungus spores”) and eyelash-length symphylans, fast-moving, omnivorous mini-centipedes that devour everything from “tender rootlets” to “newish dead of any breed,/ Since I’m no fusspot when I feed.” Bulion stuffs her poems with scientific detail and puts even more into accompanying “science notes.” Meganck’s cartoons strike sillier notes (a rat races away from a millipede’s stench), balancing all of the information Bulion provides with hefty doses of fun. Ages 8–12. Illustrator’s agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Mar.)