Beneath

Beneath cover
Beneath by Cori Doerrfeld

By Cori Doerrfeld
Little, Brown, 2023
40 pages
9780316312264

Ages 4-7

Grandpa wants to talk about Finn’s “horrible mood,” but Finn declines, believing that Grandpa doesn’t understand how Finn is feeling. Finn agrees to a walk but insists on remaining cloaked in a blanket. “‘Don’t worry,’ said Grandpa. ‘I’ll remember to think of what’s beneath.’” As the two walk through the woods and along the shore, Grandpa talks about things that can be seen and things that cannot. Though they may be hidden, there are roots growing beneath trees and fish teeming beneath a motionless boat. Sometimes we know what’s beneath (eggs under a nesting bird) and sometimes we don’t (what is that fox digging up?). And while we can see “what’s happening on the outside,” there’s also plenty going on beneath the surface of plants, animals, and even people: experiences, explanations, emotions. The digital art echoes this concept visually, providing glimpses beneath and inside the landscape and other creatures. When Grandpa tells Finn that “‘[b]eneath someone who looks like they won’t understand… is someone who knows exactly how you feel,’” Finn embraces his offer of connection. This child-friendly narrative successfully balances the concrete with the figurative and offers plenty of moments for contemplation, understanding, and discussion in both the text and illustrations.  ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center