Field trip! What excitement for children to anticipate new discoveries in nature and have fun while learning. Author Anthony D. Fredericks creates enchanting rhythms and rhymes accompanied by Jennifer DiRubbio’s realistic, sometimes larger-than-life paintings and spreads in this remarkable guide, Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders, and Creepy Insiders. The result is an intriguing, yet accessible way to learn about nature’s cycles, decomposition, and the reemergence of new life.
With an opening letter to the book’s visitors, Roly-poly, a balled up buddy—a gray, rounded, small land creature—begins the thrilling lesson with an overview. He describes what happens when a flourishing, giant oak tree is struck by lightning and then blown down by wind. The roly-poly, sometimes called a doodle-bug, tells about the predator and the prey, the big and the small, and the decaying tree which becomes a wonderful home for them.
Long soaking rains seeped into some spaces;
Wide patches of moss spread over these places.
Over time the great tree slowly wasted away—
The once mighty trunk began to decay.
Young readers discover a busy community in astonishing arrays of insects that find a home in the rotting log site. Ants, worms, millipedes, crickets, and beetles scamper about; termites chew on the wood; a scared salamander hides beneath it. A garter snake slithers around. A chipmunk twitters and squeaks. Like a children’s repeating song, the rhyme builds and repeats as each colorful spread reveals another type of insect or animal that benefits from living in the dead oak tree.
Some daddy longlegs, like alien creatures,
Have thin spindly legs and other strange features.
They creep past the mites—a hundred or so—
Swarming over the log, on top and below.
They live with the snake in search of some prey
Who slithers and slides for most of the day…
In the back of the book are informative Field Notes with descriptions, definitions, and “Fantastic Facts” about the dead oak tree, its process of decay, and the animals that take up residence in it, thereby giving it new purpose.
The final section of this marvelous book, a field trip taken indoors, is a section titled “Activities, Projects, and Lots of Cool Ideas!” These suggestions will provide still more enjoyable occupation Around One Log. The book is described as juvenile literature, but adults will also be enamored of its timeless message of ecology.