Our Latest Recommendation for Lil’ Sprouts Book Club: April Showers (And Secret Pools)
Lil’ Sprouts Book Club is a monthly Garden Collage feature where we spotlight nature- and garden-related books for kids age 2 and up that encourage green education. The books are designed to evoke the core mission of Garden Collage: to bring the garden (and nature) into people’s lives.
Our April theme of The Alchemist focuses on nature’s transformative powers– in particular, how old, coarse, unlikely elements can be transformed into something fresh, beautiful, and restorative. To honor this incredible process, we’re celebrating vernal pools, an easily-overlooked feature of the forest landscape that turns leftover leaves, rain, and snow into new life.
Vernal pools are ephemeral by nature, forming in the spring (particularly the month of April, which is known for its showers) and evaporating by the end of summer. These forest wetlands occur as a byproduct of rain and melted snow, collecting on low floors. In the autumn months, leaves fall along the floor of the pools and are later broken down into nutrients for the pool’s inhabitants. While they might be mistaken for ordinary puddles, vernal pools are home to a number of creatures. The pools are an important habitat for aquatic animals like frogs, salamanders, and shrimp, as they offer a haven away from fish and other year-long water dwellers, who often eat their eggs.
Written by Kimberly Ridley and illustrated by Rebekah Raye, The Secret Pool melds adventure and learning. Ridley is a naturalist and science writer by trade, and the book is filled with informative asides, which offer tips on how to catch a glimpse of the elusive spotted salamander or explain how wood frogs survive the winter. The last few pages of the book provide a glossary of common environmental terms. The accompanying illustrations are loosely sketched and filled in with watercolors that use fresh, sunny hues and all together give the story a classic children’s book feel.
- What are wetlands?
A wetland is any area that is inundated or saturated with water, and has plants growing that are adapted to the hydric soil (meaning it is saturated with water for part or all of the year). In addition to vernal pools, wetlands include swamps, marshes, and bogs.