Exploring Soils


eBook - June 2017 - eRetailers


Take a journey with aspiring soil scientist James and discover the importance of soils in our world.

Have you ever wondered what happens in the earth underneath us? James has, and he wants to learn more about soil. In Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground, James discovers that soil is not just dirt for digging in. He explores how plants and animals live in soil, how soils are formed, how they differ, and the ways that soil is essential in our lives. + Full description

Written by Samantha Grover, a soil scientist and parent, and with engaging illustrations by artist Camille Heisler, Exploring Soils will take you to an underground world filled with activity and discoveries.

Reading level varies from child to child, but we recommend this book for ages 6-9.

Notable Book, The CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books 2018
Shortlisted, The Wilderness Society's Environment Award for Children's Literature 2018: Non-Fiction

- Short description


This title is no longer available in print, but can still be purchased as an eBook.

Read more on our blog:
Sam Grover shares her experience of being part of a national program designed to increase the visibility of women in science: Q&A with Dr Samantha Grover, Superstar of STEM.


"The soil beneath our feet holds many secrets. Understanding and caring for our soils is one of the most important things we can do. Soil is as important for life, as water and air, but how many people know this? Or how to unlock its secrets.
This delightful children’s book, written by soil scientist Sam Grover and charmingly illustrated by artist Camille Heisler, presents us with a key to do so. Written to introduce exploring young minds to the fascinating world of soils and especially to the hidden world underground, it is packed with interesting facts and colourful images.
It deserves a place not only on family bookshelves, but in every preschool and primary school library. Parents, grandparents and teachers, too, will all enjoy the imaginative journey of discovery it offers."
The Honourable Penny Wensley AC, National Patron, Soil Science Australia

"Soil scientist Samantha Grover has written a child-friendly book imparting lots of information about an interesting topic whilst not being in the slightest way didactic."
Lynne Babbage, CBCA Reading Time (blog), 18/7/17

"charming children's picture book with delightful illustrations... It's the perfect gift for the budding gardener in your family, and a starting point in understanding our soils, the basis for productive life on our planet."
Penny Woodward, The Organic Gardener Magazine, October 2017, p. 80

"The book is a perfect introduction to an often overlooked field of science for children aged six to nine."
Bill Condie, COSMOS, October 2017, p. 97

"Reading six pages at a time, I read this book as a ‘serial’ over four sessions to my science classes of six- and seven-year-old students. This way of reading to a class of early childhood students provided them with the opportunity to think about, discuss and raise questions over an extended period of time. The text and illustrations proved to be very appealing and elicited a lot of useful comment from them... There is much to recommend in this book as a welcome addition to a school library or a child’s personal book collection. Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground certainly captured the interest and imagination of the students in my early years classes."
David Keystone, Teaching Science 64(1), March 2018

"This is a very good book. Its author and illustrator combine well to cover key areas of what is an enormous topic, and the excellent illustrations give an enticing flavour of soil ecosystems in Australia. If the potatoes in your garden are not ready to dig up, then this book is another good way to get children interested in what is beneath their feet."
D.S. Reay, Soil Use and Management 34, March 2018

"The author and illustrator have done very well to take a complex and at times overlooked scientific field and convert it into a comprehensive picture book. Information is written and presented in ways that are easy to understand and relatable for primary school-aged children, with diagrams integrated into the illustrations."
Dr Kevin F. McGrath, Geographical Education 31, 2018

"This is a great resource and well supported with teaching resources. I would highly recommend this book both for its skilful storytelling and its information to develop children’s interests in the soils around them."
Peter Hope, Let's Find Out 37(4) 2020


ePDF | June 2017
ISBN: 9781486305018
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Engaging child-centred storyline with captivating illustrations
  • Aligns with Australian curriculum and Soil Science Australia’s ‘Soils in Schools’ initiative
  • Supported by teacher resources
  • Visit the illustrator's website for more information


Dr Samantha Grover is a soil scientist. She and her plant ecologist partner have two young boys who are fascinated by the natural world. Their endless questions and the UNESCO International Year of Soils combined to inspire Dr Grover to create this book to share the wonder of soils with a wider audience.

Camille Heisler is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Melbourne. She is currently finishing a Master in Contemporary Art.

As a child Camille became fascinated with the visual world as soon as she received her first pair of glasses. Camille loves colour, making marks and working with light, observing the detail of things. The subject matter of her work often brings into focus the overlooked and the as yet undiscovered.

She also loves to read. For this book Camille enjoyed the challenge and wonder of working with pencil and watercolour. She hopes you like the end result.

For Teachers

We have created these Teacher Notes as a free PDF download to support the use of this book in the classroom.

Teacher Notes (1.49 MB)