Handful of Dirtby Raymond Bial
Soil may not be alive, but amazingly, multitudes of microscopic creatures live there, battling it out in an eat-or-be-eaten world. These tiny creatures, invisible to our eyes, provide food for the insects that in turn feed the reptiles and mammals that live in and above the soil. You'll never look at the ground you walk on in the same way after Raymond Bial, an
Soil may not be alive, but amazingly, multitudes of microscopic creatures live there, battling it out in an eat-or-be-eaten world. These tiny creatures, invisible to our eyes, provide food for the insects that in turn feed the reptiles and mammals that live in and above the soil. You'll never look at the ground you walk on in the same way after Raymond Bial, an award-winning photo essayist, takes you on this eye-opening, down-and-dirty tour of one of the earth's most precious resources.
Meet the Author
Raymond Bial recently retired from his position as a college library director at the University of Illinois. He continues to create the beautiful photo-essays that have garnered him awards and high praise. His Amish Home was an ALA Notable Book, and, in a starred review, Booklist called his Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side "an excellent example of how books can bring the past into the present." Raymond lives in Urbana, Illinois, with his wife and two younger children, Sarah and Luke. His oldest daughter, Anna, is a fashion designer in New York City.
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S. Oliver Eng 385.05 Dr. Martin Raymond Bial, A Handful of Dirt. New York, New York: Walker & Company, 2000 A Handful of Dirt is a book about a family legacy, gardening, and science. The author¿s father had been a lifelong gardener specializing in the making of soil. The author grew up learning the ways of nature at his grandfather¿s side learning to love and respect nature deeply. When his grandfather dies at the beginning of the book, he inherits the tools his grandfather had used for years: shovel, sharpshooter, hoe, and hard tined rake. The author is honored and vows to carry on the tradition. This book is the keeping of that promise. In these pages, the author reaches out to all children who care to learn the magic of composting, the importance of good soil in gardening, and what lives in the soil from fungi and microbes to snakes and moles. Beautiful photos that children will love support the text. There are pictures of the components of soil, raw materials for composting, the beautiful garden one can build by enriching the soil, and wonderful pictures of the fungi, microbes, and animals that inhabit the soil. He gives a simple but accurate lesson on the food chain. The author describes beneficial insects and pesty insects. He demonstrates the role death plays in replenishing the soil of Earth, including dead leaves and animals that have perished. Through image and word, the author conveys in a matter of fact way how all of this is simply a part of the balance of nature. The book is an excellent teaching tool, if presented in the proper way to the proper child. The text portions, as well as some of the pictures may not be suitable for very young children. The subject matter is complex, but Bial does a wonderful job of simplifying without patronizing the child or sacrificing the material. He is working with some concepts that are rather abstract: the love and respect of the Earth, love of Nature, the long-term goals and objectives involved in composting, microscopic organisms, and the rawness of death in the wild. A Handful of Dirt is just the right book for just the right child. I learned about gardening, nature, and the earth at my mother¿s side from the time I could walk, just as the author did. I still love it today. Because of those experiences, I have embraced some truths that were mirrored in this book. It is my wish that many children will read this book and internalize messages such as: it is vital that we teach our children to nurture the environment, practice the principals of integrated pest management, and carry on the rich and rewarding legacies our families have bequeathed us.