Frogsicles, Salamanders and Fairy Shrimp
Author Kimberly Ridley and illustrator Rebekah Raye recently visited students on Swans Island and Machiasport (Fall, 2013), Vinalhaven, Jonesport and Deer Isle (Spring, 2014) and North Haven (Fall 2014) with their book, The Secret Pool. Through informational text, observation, imagination, and art, kids investigated the mysteries and uncovered the facts about vernal pools and the critters who rely on them for survival. Using the book as a portal to vernal pools and their ecosystems, this program reinforced and expanded the natural curiosity kids have about their world.
Vernal pools are not just wet spots in the wood to avoid stepping in, they are the source of life for many interesting creatures. These little pools form every year when low places on the forest floor fill up with rain and melted snow. Wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and fairy shrimp depend on them to survive. Even in late summer and fall, when many vernal pools have shrunk to mud holes, they are still important because turtles and snakes rely on these places for shelter and food.
The Secret Pool opens young readers’ eyes to the many cool critters and things right underfoot, and encourages them to look carefully at seemingly ordinary places to find concealed natural wonders. Sidebars in the book provide fun facts on vernal pool inhabitants and the crucial role these small, often overlooked wetlands play in maintaining a healthy environment.
“The Secret Pool is enchanting! I encourage parents, grandparents, and friends of children everywhere to read the book with a young one and then open the door to see if you can find a vernal pool. If you don t live in a region where vernal pools can be found, look for something else in nature that changes through the seasons and serves as a home for wildlife.”
– Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., Co-Founder, Children & Nature Network
The Secret Pool is a winner of the John Burroughs Association Riverby Award 2013 for excellent natural history books for young readers.
IRW creates worksheets to supplement the books we bring to life in the classroom, and provide these worksheets to teachers and students to use in preparation for their school visit. Here are some worksheet links for Kim’s books: