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Book Reviews

Hidden Worlds: Amazing Tunnel Stories

by Debora Pearson, Tina Holdcroft, illus.

This book of lore about 11 tunnels from around the world – both historical and current – crackles with energy. The excitement begins in the unique table of contents, where colourful characters in active poses elaborate on each chapter title through speech bubbles. And it continues throughout.

Author Debora Pearson has selected unusual tunnels that most children and adults are unlikely to have heard about. By using the present tense in the main text, she tries to make each tunnel tale more immediate for the reader. While this style is usually effective, it’s occasionally unclear when the story in question actually happened.

The main text, however, is not the only source of information about these tunnels. The clever design of the book encourages readers to learn more by exploring mini-sidebars and the numerous often-humorous speech bubbles that are superimposed on the detailed illustrations.

And for those who want to further expand their knowledge about these fascinating tunnels, more historical background is given for each tunnel at the back of the book. In addition, two web sites are included, along with two puzzles.

The index is useful for locating information about, for example, Polish tunnels made out of salt, Parisian tunnels filled with thousands of skeletons, tunnels used for delivering mail, aqueducts, a famous prisoner-of-war escape route, and a series of tunnels used by an eccentric English duke.

Reading this book can be an enjoyable learning experience, one that will probably be appreciated by children aged eight to 12. It can also serve as a resource for kids studying a structures unit.