Monday, May 5, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: The Secret Pool by Kimberly Ridley, illustrated by Rebekah Raye

I had high expectations of this title - I use Rebekah Raye's The Very Best Bed frequently in storytime and this title got excellent reviews, but, once again, I am a lone voice of dissent. It really, really didn't work for me.

The book introduces readers to a vernal pool; a small woodland pool that forms from rain or melted snow and then often shrinks to a mud puddle or dries up completely.

So, my first objection is that the narrator of the story of a vernal pool is...the pool. This really threw me out of the story. I have a hard time seeing kids understanding that the pool is telling the "story". The text does have that dual simple sentences paired with longer chunks of information that I like for nonfiction read-alouds, but the text is very difficult to read. Look at the cover of the book - can you read the author and illustrator easily? No? Well, that's how the text is laid out throughout the book. Some of the text, especially the longer sidebars, are against a lighter background, but most of the text is woven into the illustrations.

Which brings me to another complaint. While I'm not a complete fan of Raye's illustrations, they work very well in Best Bed. The animals are all easy to distinguish and identifiable. In this book they aren't, at least not to my eyes. The proportions seem off or distorted and the illustrations are generally crowded and cluttered.

Verdict: This got starred reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, and was included in CCBC's Choices, so I'm probably the only person who didn't like it. So...yeah, just one person's opinion here. I just don't see it working well in storytime, which is my primary purpose for books like this.

ISBN: 9780884483397; Published September 2013 by Tilbury House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: