From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-- Lavies's extraordinary photography turns garbage and bugs into a thing of beauty--nutritious humus. The author begins by constructing her own compost pile and then observes it through the year as bacteria, worms, insects, and even crustaceans transform kitchen and garden scraps into fertile soil. The magnified photographs are rich in detail and color; the accompanying essay clarifies the pictures as it informs with both factual information and broadening concepts. By planting tomato vines around her compost, Lavies is able to show the result of all the activity--her tomatoes are huge. Her respect for these tiniest of creatures and her joy in the cycles of nature are apparent in both her words and her pictures. The ability of creatures to survive unchanged for billions of years; the similarity between what bacteria does in the compost and "in your gut"; the life, courtship, birth, and death cycles that occur in this environment all add up to a positive, life-affirming story that will inspire young gardeners, ecologists, and scientists. --Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
With each handsome book since Lily Pad Pond (1989), this gifted former National Geographic photographer comes up with a stronger, more significant text. Here, she details the many forms of life nourished by her compost heap--and by each other--during the heap's first year, pointing out the ``critters''' distinguishing characteristics not only through the text but through her outstanding color photos, and putting them in context by mentioning classifications, early ancestors, and related species as well as by describing how their behavior helps transform scraps and weeds into humus. Adroitly, Lavies includes clues to scale--a necessity, since many of the photos are magnified; some are microscopic enlargements. The book would have been enriched by a note on the photography (
la Bruce Macmillan), including degrees of magnification, and by a list of species. Still, a fine offering that splendidly conveys the fecundity of the homely household heap, implicitly suggesting that nature's wonderful diversity is not only found in the jungle: it can also be encouraged in any backyard. (Nonfiction. 6-12) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.