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Step Gently Out [Hardcover]

Helen Frost , Rick Lieder
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 18.00
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Book Description

March 13 2012
Stunning close-up photography and a lyrical text implore children to look more closely at the world around them.

Be still, and watch a single blade of grass.
An ant climbs up to look around.
A honeybee flies past.


What would happen if you walked very, very quietly and looked ever so carefully at the natural world outside? You might see a cricket leap, a moth spread her wings, or a spider step across a silken web. In simple, evocative language, Helen Frost offers a hint at the many tiny creatures around us. And in astonishing close-up photographs, Rick Lieder captures the glint of a katydid's eye, the glow of a firefly, and many more living wonders just awaiting discovery. Fascinating facts about all the creatures pictured may be found at the end.

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Review

Breathtaking photos and an exquisite poem capture a bug's-eye view of nature... While Frost's lightly rhymed declarative verse encourages children to experience the natural world with care and openness to the tiny wonders of insect life around them, Lieder's richly colored intimate close ups offer every reason why... A dazzlingly poetic photo album of the insect world for tots on up.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Captivating photography gives readers a closeup view of the world of insects, as described by a gently contemplative poem... The words and images achieve a Zenlike calm that also hints at the complicated web of life unfolding all around.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Nature’s miracles are often small and hard to capture, but in a syncopated harmony of text and image, Frost and Lieder manage to depict tiny moments as seen through a bugs-eye-view of the world... Moving from day to night, the poem makes for a soothing bedtime lullaby that includes a reminder to children about the book’s small creatures: "In song and dance / and stillness, / they share the world / with you."
—Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Helen Frost is the author of Monarch and Milkweed as well as six novels-in-poems for children and young adults. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Rick Lieder is a nature photographer, artist, and book-jacket designer. He lives in Michigan.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! May 2 2013
By Elaine
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the most amazing children's books I have read. The photography is absolutely spectacular, the poetry is beautiful, and it is such a great way to get children interested in thinking about the little things around them, particularly insects. My son is 7 years old and loves this book. He has loved insects since he was very young, and he likes to show his friends this book so they will like insects too. As a family who is passionate about educating and bringing awareness to (and protection of) the world of insects and the environment, this book is such a wonderful tool to help with that. For anyone wishing to raise awareness of the importance of insects, whether with adults or with children, this book is a helpful tool. It is a detailed illustration of the beauty in the world around us, if we only stop and look.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gorgeous book! April 12 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is astonishingly beautiful. The photographs are amazing and the story told so eloquently. I will enjoy sharing this with my kindergarten class>
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Step Gently Out March 20 2012
By Kat Thacker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a beautiful book. Stunning photos of insects with true personalities never seen before. Lovely poetry with gentle message of observing the hidden world around you. This book would make a perfect gift for both children & adults!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating miniature world April 8 2012
By Jessica at Cracking the Cover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Each line in "Step Gently Out" asks readers to explore. The text simply explains each of the book's stunning photographs -- which just so happens to be bugs in their habitats.

Like the text, each of the images is simple in composition, yet complex in the details. The fuzz on a caterpillar becomes long and spikey, and a moth's wings take on a hair-like quality when seen through a macro lens. Rick Lieder's images combined with Helen Frost's text give these tiny creatures the appearance of human personalities.

A final set of pages offers readers interesting facts about the insects and spiders. "Step Gently Out" offers a gentle introduction to creepy crawlies that even the most squeamish of child will find fascinating.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty creepy crawlies Aug. 10 2012
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have lots of little soapboxes scattered around my home that I like to pounce on in idle moments. Big soapboxes. Little soapboxes. Anyone who knows me is forced to hear me expound from one of them at least once daily. It's rare that I get to shove two of them together, though. Usually they represent separate entities that don't overlap. Picking up the remarkably gorgeous work that is Helen Frost and Rick Lieder's "Step Gently Out", however, allows me to stack one soapbox on top of another. That may make them a little more difficult to balance on, but with practice I'll have it down pat. From that perch I can then cry to the heavens above, "Why is there no poetry award for children's books given out by the American Library Association?" while also bemoaning, "Why has a work of photography never won a Caldecott Award?" Yes, "Step Gently Out" appears to be a double threat. Poetry meets photography in a single undulating poem. And if my soapbox seems strange, it will make all the more sense when you learn that the pair behind the book includes the remarkable poet Helen Frost and photographer extraordinaire Rick Lieder. Put them both together and you'd be a fool to overlook this book for any reason whatsoever.

"Step gently out," the book urges us. "... be still, and watch a single blade of grade." As we follow the words and instructions we are brought in close to a wide array of common backyard insects. An ant lifts its head from the center of a yellow flower and is "bathed in golden light." A spider weaves webs soaked in droplets and we hear that "they're splashed with morning dew". By the end we begin to understand them better and the text closes with "In song and dance and stillness, they share the world with you." A final two-page spread at the end identifies all the insects shown in the book and gives some facts about their lives.

Reading through the book a couple times I couldn't help but wonder if the photos came first or the poem. Did Ms. Frost see Lieder's work and construct just the right poem to accompany the images? After all, there are specific mentions of many of the bugs you'll find in the photographs. Or did Mr. Lieder read Ms. Frost's poem and then set out to find the right insects required to carry her vision? Or (a third idea just came to me) was this a case of an already existing poem and already existing photographs coming together by a clever editor, seeming to fit from the start? I simply do not know.

For parents wishing to instill in their children a sense of Zen, often they'll turn to something like Jon J. Muth's "Zen Shorts" and the like. A worthy choice, but if what you are trying to do is to give your kids a sense of communion with nature on its most basic and essential level, "Step Gently Out" is the better bet. I've always been a big fan of Ms. Frost's poetry, though often her medium is middle grade or early young adult fiction. It was in books like "The Braid" or "Diamond Willow" or "Hidden" that I could enjoy her clever hidden messages and original forms. "Step Gently Out" marks a distinct departure for her, partly because the single poem used here is so simple. With a large font that highlights each word to maximum effect, Frost taps into that moment when you stand in the presence of something as familiar and alien as an insect.

Part of the magic of Lieder's art is the balance between distance and intimacy. When we pick up a book of insect photography from some other children's book photographer like Nic Bishop we are brought nose to pincher with his subjects to a degree we would never find in real life. Bishop's books are novel for this reason, but from Lieder I learned that there's a real joy to be found in backing up a step or two. When we page through this book we look at the insects exactly as a child in her backyard might. The crickets and fireflies are no less powerful because they are the size you'd find if you held them in your hand and up to your eyeball. In their natural state they become somehow more approachable, particularly when you consider the gorgeous backgrounds they recline against. Not that there weren't surprising details to be found in Lieder's work. I had no idea the common yellow jacket was such a lovely vibrant little creature. Not that I'd want to get any nearer to it, of course.

The book pairs rather well with another insect/photography/poetry work for children. Certainly I will inform anyone who shows an interest in using "Step Gently Out" in their programming or lesson plans that the longer "Bug Off!: Creepy, Crawly Poems" by Jane Yolen, with photos by her son Jason Stemple, also would work. Of course that book has many poems in it. This book contains only one, but one is all that it needs. Folks may associate bug and insect books as ephemeral, deserving only a single reading and then moving on. This book in sharp contrast deserves to be read again and again and again. And hey, if it manages to get a bug-loving kid out there interested in a little poetry as well, no harm no foul. Steeped in lovely, through and through. I don't need a soapbox to tell you that.

For ages 3-8.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure to be a collector's favorite April 5 2012
By Robert C. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The photographs of insects in this beautifully produced children's book are stunning, detailed, the result of long hours spent studying insects in an ordinary Michigan garden. But there is nothing ordinary about the incredible detail -- fascinating to kids around five to eight, based on my small sample -- but to this much older kid at heart.

There is a wonderful short video promoting this book, not shown as I write this Review by Amazon, but beautiful and well worth watching all on its own. It is absolutely inspiring; see link in the first Comment.

According to the back matter, insects on display include: European Honeybee, a Chinese Praying Mantis, a Tussock Moth Caterpillar, an Eastern Black Carpenter Ant, a Big Dipper Firefly, a Greater Angle-wing Katydid, an Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, a Striped Ground Cricket, a Chickweed Geometer Moth, an Orb-weaver Spider, and a Common Yellow Jacket.

The poetry is spare and evocative:

In song and dance
and stillness,

they share the world
with you.

This book, sharing images of ordinary insects, is an excellent teaching tool -- step gently, look carefully, you can find wonders in ordinary life.

Robert C. Ross
April 2012
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! July 11 2012
By Crazy about shoes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book for young children. The art work is beautiful, the poetry is lovely and the message is a valuable one. I gave it to my three year old granddaughter, and her mother, my daughter, loved the fact that the book also gives information on the different species mentioned. I highly recommend it.
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