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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Among a Thousand Fireflies, written by Helen Frost and photographed by Rick Lieder. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $21.00 ages 3 and up

"Across a distance
wide and dark,
she looks out from
her flower
and sees -

Light. Dark.
Light. Dark."

How on earth do you create such an incredibly beautiful book when the subject matter is a firefly looking for a mate? I wish I knew. All I can do from my seat here at the computer is to encourage you to find a copy of this book and see how Helen Frost and Rick Lieder have accomplished such a feat ... again! This is their third elegant collaboration, after Step Gently Out (2012) and Sweep Up the Sun (2015). Each one invites us to take ourselves and our children out into the natural world to explore its wonders and to learn more about what there is for us to truly see.

It would be rare to see a firefly in Manitoba. However, the allure of these tiny creatures emitting 'light' at dusk and dawn is powerful, and I was totally engrossed in the lyrical sound of Ms. Frost's poem. The text fits absolutely perfectly with Mr. Lieder's stunning photographs that so clearly capture this tiny radiant creature.

Their audience is asked to quietly observe only two of the thousands that brighten the sky, as they try to find each other. In her note, the author explains:

"Their flashes help them find each other when they are looking for mates. Each kind of firefly has its own pattern of flashes. A female firefly may settle in one spot as the males flash their lights all around her. When the female sees a male flashing her kind of pattern, she flashes back, and the male comes closer."

I am sure that some of you knew that. I had no idea at all, and only learned it was true when I read, and then reread, and then read the poem for a third time. This lovely book definitely deserves your attention. Taking the time to really look at the amazing images that Rick Lieder has captured inspires awe!


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