The Street Beneath My Feet (Review)
Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Author: Charlotte Guillain
Illustrator: Yuval Zommer
Publisher: Quarto Publishing, 2018
Interest Level: Ages 5 - 8
Reading Level: Grade 3; Guided Reading Level O
Retail: $24.95, hardcover
Summary: Take an adventure to the center of the earth and back and watch how human made structures give way to natural and geological features the deeper you go. Instead of pages, this book contains a continuous accordion-pleated plate that makes it easy for children to imagine and trace the immense depth covered in the text.
This is a cool book. First off, it's big, and it is well worth its $24.95 price tag. The cover is textured and has beautiful iridescent accents. As soon as you open it, you realize that this is no ordinary book. The text and pictures run sideways along a sturdy, folded, continuous page (a fold-out to use the industry term). The more you read, the deeper you go into the earth until you reach the core. Flip over the fold-out for a trip back to the surface featuring different sights and wonders.
The illustrations are bright and simplified, but not babyish. This book should inspire children to want to learn more about the earth - its geology, its flora and fauna, and its history. The Street Beneath My Feet has been recognized as a 2018 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students: K-12 by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council. It is also a 2018 American Library Association Notable Children's Book.
This is a book that children can explore on their own or with an adult. The illustrations stand on their own, and the text is engaging. Keep in mind that in order to unfold all the pages, you need a fair amount of space. This is not a car-ride book. Readers need to use good book-handling skills to avoid damage and to fold it back into its original configuration. It is possible to read the text without unfolding the pages entirely, but it wouldn't be as much fun.
I would love this book more if they had taken the care to depict archaeology in a more realistic way. Gold coins, pottery and swords are not typical finds. Details matter. Even in the UK (home of the author and illustrator), Roman helmets are not lying about beneath the sidewalks, let alone in the US where the publisher is located. I would have preferred to see potsherds, stone artifacts, animal bones.
I highly recommend this book for young children. The format is unusual, and it presents scientific information in an appealing way.