So pleased about early reviews of THE DIRT BOOK

Hi everyone,

I hope you’ll understand my excitement about the approaching pub date for THE DIRT BOOK. It was seven years in the making and that’s a long time to wait. When the reviews start coming in and you finally get a chance to see what others have to say about what you’ve done, well, the ego can be a fragile thing and is quick to celebrate a few kind words. This review came in yesterday. Kate Cosgrove, who illustrated the book so handsomely, posted a picture of herself opening the box of her sample copies that had just arrived, and I posted a picture of me holding my own first copies. Preorders spiked enough to place THE DIRT BOOK in the #1 New Book for Science category for a few hours.

Today’s edition of Shelf Awareness Pro includes a review for THE DIRT BOOK!

  The Dirt Book: Poems about Animals That Live Beneath Our Feet by David L. Harrison, illus. by Kate Cosgrove (Holiday House, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 5-9, 9780823438617, June 8, 2021)

Author David L. Harrison and illustrator Kate Cosgrove join forces again (And the Bullfrogs Sing) to celebrate dirt in this lyrical nonfiction picture book. Cheerful images bursting with color accompany 15 playful poems that explore the mysterious activities happening “below the roots where green grass grows,/ …/ where boulders rest and tree roots drink.” Plants, insects and animals all join in the festivities, making The Dirt Book a lively picture book party.

Harrison invites his audience to imagine riding a magic elevator down below the surface–an elevator Cosgrove ingeniously depicts as a tree, burrowing into the earth. On this trip, the book’s creators explain that dirt is made with a mixture of rock, root, dead things, insects, fungi and “at least a billion germs.” A biosphere of life carries on (unbeknownst to most humans) thanks to this seemingly unpleasant concoction. Insects like doodlebugs, spiders, earthworms and grubs make their homes here. Harrison’s lively rhymes and Cosgrove’s playful drawings make the insects appealing and fascinating: “Earthworm squiggles,/ earthworm squirms,/ earthworm dines on/ dirt and germs.” The work of mice, chipmunks, tortoises and toads is described as, “Ridges, mounds, tunnels, holes–/ handiwork of tiny trolls,/ furry demons on patrol,/ working where it’s black as coal.” Learning about life in the dirt has never been quite so entertaining.

An extra-long portrait format contributes an additional element of pizzazz to this enjoyable nonfiction selection. The exaggerated view emphasizes the below-ground setting and supplies Cosgrove with an ample canvas to tell each poem’s story in her detailed colored pencil and digital illustrations. There is a plethora of knowledge to absorb from Cosgrove’s art, including such varied information as the patterns on the tortoise shell and the delicate webbing on the bumblebee’s wings.

The Dirt Book includes back matter that offers additional details about the various life forms featured in the book’s poems, and a bibliography provides curious readers with resources for further exploration. Harrison points out in his final poem, “And now we’ve learned a lot, although/ there’s more to dirt than we might think.” This charming picture book is a splendid way to encourage an understanding and appreciation for nature and the often-unseen life that inhabits the planet alongside humans. The illustrations are rich and elaborate and the delightful poems keep the audience cheerfully bopping along to the rhythm of… dirt. –Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: David L. Harrison and Kate Cosgrove renew their partnership poetically to extol the wonders of dirt in a fascinating nonfiction picture book of 15 poems.

Proud of the new book

BULLETIN: I’m happy to say that THE DIRT BOOK just went up at #1 New Release in Children’s Zoology Books. With the real release date still 41 days away, that seems like a good sign.

He everyone,

Yesterday Kate Cosgrove posted about receiving her samples of THE DIRT BOOK, which I wrote and she illustrated for Holiday House. It has a June 8 publication date and preorders have been active for some time now. I was jealous because my samples hadn’t come yet. As I was typing my comment on Kate’s post, my box of books arrived.

THE DIRT BOOK, which is about creatures that live at least some part of their lives underground, is receiving strong reviews that will start going up in May. Hey, Kate, way to go!

Once upon a parking lot

Hi everyone,

Once in a while I drive my M.O.W. to an appointment and, thanks to Covid rules, wait in the car for her return. Working in a car isn’t the most productive place I can think of, but I fill a coffee thermos, grab a breakfast bar, stuff a manuscript inside a notepad folder with a hard cover for support, and do the best I can.

While waiting in doctors’ offices for appointments of my own, a small journal that fits in my pocket isn’t bad. This afternoon I’ll have a quick check of how my pacemaker surgery is healing, so it will be a pocket journal occasion. This week I’m polishing some poems so I’ll print one or two, fold them inside the small journal, and try to make my waiting time count.

A beautiful evening at Goose Lake

Hi everyone,

Not much time to visit this morning but I want to show you two pictures I took last night. I walked out our front door to capture the sunset. Sandy called our neighbor across the street, Linda Goodman, to tell her to look out her back windows, and Linda told us to look out our own back windows. That’s when I took the second picture. As the sun was setting in the west, the moon was rising in the east.

A week of work on the way

Hi everyone,

Last week had a lot of moving parts. This one promises to be tamer and I hope to finish the revisions to all the poems in Book #1. I have a phone call with an editor, need to make a video of myself reading three poems, and have one commitment away from the house. Otherwise I don’t expect anything but calm, productive days. I hope you all have a good week too.