Review: The Secret Pool by Kimberley Ridley

secret pool

The Secret Pool by Kimberley Ridley, illustrated by Rebekah Raye

Vernal pools are easy to miss, but also necessary to the life of many animals.  This nonfiction picture book explores the amazing things that happen in vernal pools throughout the seasons.  It begins with defining what a vernal pool is and then quickly moves into spring.  The fascinating lives of frogs are described, including the way they make it through the winter.  Soon salamanders join them and breed in the pool.  Tiny fairy shrimp appear too.  As summer comes, the eggs of the salamanders and frogs hatch and soon there are tadpoles and larvae in the pools.  Now the race begins to see if they can climb ashore before the pool dries up.  The vernal pool disappears and the animals that live there and were born there move away.  They will return again with the spring and the vernal pools.

Ridley has nicely created a book that can be used at two levels.  The larger text can be shared as almost a story about the pools.  Then the smaller text provides deeper information about the vernal pools and the animals.  Her words work together well, the simpler text offers a poetic voice to the factual information that serves to remind us how amazing all of this actually is.

Raye’s illustrations are lush and minutely detailed.  She offers both larger scale images of the animals and then others done with finer lines that show more details and more animals on the page.  You never know what you will see on the next page, and I guarantee a jump of surprise when you see the bullfrog with the tadpole hanging out of his mouth like a tongue. 

This book reveals a world right under our feet that most children never knew existed.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from library copy.