Format: Hardcover

Author: Kimberley Ridley

Illustrator: Rebekah Raye

ISBN: 978-0-88448-339-7

Pages: 32




In THE SECRET POOL, by Kimberley Ridley and illustrated by Rebekah Raye, we learn that it’s possible to walk right by a vernal pool and not notice it. Often mistaken for mere puddles in the woods, vernal pools are the source of life for many interesting creatures. If you look carefully, you can find them—and be amazed! These secret pools form every year when low places on the forest floor fill up with rain and melted snow. They soon become home to hatching wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and fairy shrimp. Even in late summer and fall, when many vernal pools have shrunk to mud holes, creatures such as turtles and snakes rely on them for shelter and food. The Secret Pool introduces young readers to the wonders right underfoot as the voice of a vernal pool shares its secrets through the seasons, and sidebars provide fun facts on its inhabitants and the crucial role these small, often overlooked wetlands play in maintaining a healthy environment. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 NEXT GEN SCIENCE CORRELATIONS:

Applicable DCI and Performance Indicators

K—LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms: K-LS1-1, survival needs

2—LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans: 2-LS4-1, diversity of life

3—LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior: 3-LS2-1, animals form groups to survive; LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience: 3-LS4-3, survival in habitat.


Lupine Award, Maine Library Association
Riverby Award, John Burroughs Association
Skipping Stones Honor Book
CCBC Choices Best Books
Kirkus Starred Review

From School Library Journal:  Gr 3-4-The secret pool is a vernal pond, also known as an ephemeral pool, for its temporary existence as a small, forest wetland habitat. This pond is personified and describes the myriad life it supports in first-person, vibrant, rhyming verse. The verse is amplified by narrative text detailing the lives and life cycles supported by this small woodland pond. The exuberant, earthy illustrations seem to spill off the page as they portray a habitat brimming with life in every season. They compel readers to stop, look, and then perhaps count the wood frogs or fairy shrimp (both indicator species of these ponds) or wonder at the reflection of such predators as an upside-down owl. Even the two-page glossary is illustrated with a winter forestscape. Unique and original, this informative book will captivate and inform readers and browsers alike.-Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VAα(c) Copyright 2013.  Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.  No redistribution permitted. 
It reads with the delight and dangers of a fairy tale, but it’s grounded in science. –Holly Meade, illustrator of the Caldecott Honor winning Hush! A Thai Lullaby and other books

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

With poetic text and informative sidebars, this beautiful book delightfully captures the drama and mystery of vernal pools. Dive in and get lost in this magical world. —-Joyce Sidman, Newbery Honor winning children’s author and winner of the 2013 NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry

This surprisingly engaging look at a habitat not often covered in science curricula and popular nonfiction series strikes a harmonious balance of conversational language, factual text and informative illustrations.On the full-bleed spread preceding the first page, Raye paints a watery woodland scene, in a multitude of greens and browns, with a population of creatures that depend upon the vernal pool for survival. Children will be amazed at how vital this place is for owls, rabbits, ducks, raccoons, robins, turtles, toads, tadpoles, snakes, dragonflies, deer, skunks, squirrels, frogs and salamanders. The vernal pool speaks from the beginning, ‘A shimmer. A twinkling. Do you have any inkling of what I am?…you might mistake me for a puddle which I most certainly am not!’ Each spread features captivating narrative that explains this watery jewel on a child’s level on one side and on the other provides more scientific information in a smaller font. Topics covered include the definition of a vernal pool and highlights about the various animals that begin or spend their entire lives in this relatively small biome. The book proceeds from the earliest days of spring through an entire year, dictating the order in which creatures are introduced. Readers will be amazed to learn that wood frogs can freeze into ‘frogsicles’ during winter only to thaw out in the spring and that fairy shrimp eggs can last up to fifteen years before hatching!Share with budding naturalists or use as an excellent guide for a woodland walk when the first rains of spring awaken this diverse and fascinating ecosystem. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-8) –Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)  

Honors and Awards:

Riverby Award, John Burroughs Association

Lupine Award

Skipping Stones Honor Award

Reading Is Fundamental’s 2014 STEAM Collection

Maine Literary Awards, Finalist 


Often mistaken for mere puddles in the woods, vernal pools are the source of life for many interesting creatures.

Topics: Wildlife habitat.
Problems: Sometimes things we don’t notice actually play an important role in our environment.  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  About the Authors:

Kimberly Ridley is a science writer and editor who is passionate about the natural world. She is a contributing editor to Down East and co-editor of Signs of Hope: In Praise of Ordinary Heroes. Her articles and essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Ode Magazine, and many other print and online venues. When Kimberly isn’t writing or helping scientists tell their stories in her work as a communications consultant, she is usually poking around the woods, wetlands, and seashore near her home in down east Maine. An avid birder and naturalist, she never leaves home without her binoculars, hand lens, notebook, and green rubber boots.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Rebekah Raye is an artist beloved for her bird and animal paintings and sculpture, but lately she has been spending a lot of time looking for spotted salamanders and frogs and fairy shrimp on nighttime outings with Kim Ridley. Rebekah’s warm, expressive work is derived from her affinity with the natural world around her studio and home in East Blue Hill, Maine. She illustrated Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin and is the author and illustrator of The Very Best Bed and Bear-ly There. Rebekah shares her skills and her love of art in workshops for adults and children and makes frequent school visits.

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