STEP GENTLY OUT (written by Helen Frost and photographed by Rick Lieder)
When I taught fourth grade, I was on playground duty one day and saw a group of children rhythmically stomping their feet in a line as if they were doing a folk dance. Wandering over to see what they were about, I discovered that they were attempting to kill a long line of ants.
I called out, “Stop! Wait! Can you figure out what the ants are doing?” Soon they were tracing the line from end to end and asking, “Why do they follow each other? Do they live in that hole? What does their house look like? Do they have a queen?” I hit up the school librarian for all of her ant books, and the social life of ants was a hot topic in my classroom for a day or two.
The point of this anecdote is that I believe we could have avoided the original ant massacre if these children had been read this beautiful book. Simple but poetic prose accompanies sharp, close-up photos of common insects going about their business. There is a praying mantis filling up a whole page and yet nearly invisible among some daisies. On one double-page spread, a moth caterpillar performs a daring high wire act on a single blade of grass.
For those who want to know more about each insect, there is an informative paragraph about each one at the end of the book.
Pick up this book for a child between the ages of four and eight at the Easton Area Public Library, and don’t be surprised if he or she asks for a magnifying glass instead of stompin’ boots.