The Children's Bookshelf: Earth Verse

May 21, 2018

EARTH VERSE: Haiku from the Ground Up written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by William Grill is a fascinating book that celebrates geology through poetry and art. Twenty-nine haiku accompanied by beautiful illustrations rendered in colored pencils interpret some of Earth’s most interesting and dramatic activities such as volcanoes, thunderstorms and the formation of glaciers, rocks, minerals and fossils.

The illustration of a volcanic eruption done with wild impressionistic lines in pink, red and white dramatically captures the explosion at the top of the mountain. The companion haiku is in perfect lock step:

“hotheaded mountain

loses its cool, spews ash cloud—

igneous tantrum”

The illustration of a stalactite growing down from the cave ceiling and a stalagmite growing up from the cave floor invites the reader to feel the beauty of the solid structures and honors the vibrancy of the cave’s community of fluttering bats.

The back of the book has seven smartly decorated pages of engaging explanations of such topics as the Earth, Minerals, Rocks, Fossils, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Atmospheric and Surface Water and Glaciers and Groundwater. Reading through this material first will enhance the reader’s experience with the beauty of the poetry and the pictures.

EARTH VERSE: Haiku from the Ground Up written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by William Grill is a unique combination of poetry, art and science for children 7-10 years of age (Candlewick Press, 2018).


Questions and activities for EARTH VERSE: Haiku from the Ground Up

There are 29 haiku in this book. The subject matter of each haiku relates to the activity shown in the accompanying illustration. Reread the book and select your favorite haiku.  Pay attention to the words and how they describe the feeling captured in the picture. Why is it your favorite?

There are usually seventeen syllables in a haiku. They are arranged in three lines with the first line containing 5 syllables, the second having 7 syllables and the third containing 5 syllables. Read one of your favorite haiku from this book out loud so you can hear the structure and the beauty. Have you ever written a haiku? Let’s try it. First think about a subject from nature that you want to write about and then arrange your feelings and description about the subject in the 5/7/5 order.

Be sure to read the material at the back of the book which delves into the earth’s many striking happenings such as glacier flows, thunderstorms, volcanoes, the making of fossils and the process of mineral formation. After selecting a happening draw a picture of the process or the outcome. The book’s illustrator used colored pencils.