________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 27. . . .March 24, 2017


Underneath the Sidewalk.

Claire Eamer. Illustrated by Thomas Gibault.
Toronto, ON: North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-4636-4.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

*** /4



Run, jump, spin round,

Skipping to the playground.

Skip, hop, jump, stop!

Crack in the sidewalk.

Dark crack, deep crack,

Down-below-the-street crack.

Don’t slip, don’t slide,

Down to the dark side.

Dark side, down side,

That’s where the beasts hide.

Claws grope, teeth clack,

Just below the dark crack.


Underneath the Sidewalk is a story about the darkness that lurks below sidewalk cracks waiting to grab scared children. On her way to the playground with her mother, a little girl is having a fun day, running and jumping all around. The only problem is that the sidewalk is full of scary cracks! As the girl tries to step over them all, she imagines the scary monsters that lurk below that might snatch her. Luckily, she makes it to the playground and has a great time, but on the trip home, she falls through a sidewalk crack! Terrified at what hides below in the darkness, the little girl sees many scary eyes, claws and tails, until suddenly she shouts out “stop!”. Once she sees the monsters behind the scary body parts, she realizes they’re maybe not so scary after all.

      Told in rhyming verse, this picture book is a spin on the old superstition of stepping on a crack and is a creative telling of a child confronting her/his fears. While the rhymes do not always flow as well as one hopes, with a little practice, Underneath the Sidewalk could be a fun read-aloud story. There are some sections where the reader can really draw out the rhymes and increase the tension and scariness of the story. The rise and fall of emotions throughout makes Underneath the Sidewalk an interesting read as just when it may be getting too spooky for some children, the tension breaks and a lighthearted feeling emerges. The illustrations have nice high contrast colours which make the pictures great for young eyes to look at; however, they focus strongly on the little girl rather than the background or setting. They also have a distinctly digital feel which might or might not appeal to readers.

      Underneath the Sidewalk would be a great story to read out loud with children, but it would also help raise discussion about some of the things that scare them.


Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s Master of Library and Information Studies Program.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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