Friday, April 3, 2015

Salamander Season

Salamander Season
by Jennifer Keats Curtis & J. Adam Frederick; illus. by Shennen Bersani
32 pages; ages 4-8
Arbordale, 2015

theme: animals, nature

"Errr, screech the brakes. There! In front of the car, little blue animals wriggle across the road..."

This is a story about salamanders from the perspective of a girl who goes into the woods with her dad. They find a vernal pool and check out the salamanders marching from the woods to the water. Later, she finds eggs ("small mushy cases... as big as softballs and as firm as Jell-o"). When the salamanders hatch, her dad takes two back to his lab to study. He's an environmental scientist, so he knows how to keep baby salamanders safe.

What I like about this book: It gives a real up-close-and-personal view of salamander life. We see hungry predators and the young salamanders taking action to avoid becoming salamander snacks. The book is laid out like a journal, with entries describing what happens throughout the salamander season. It's illustrated with a combination of child-like drawings and photos ... very much like what you'd find in your kid's nature journal.

Beyond the Book: Go find your mud boots and a flashlight. It's time to head outside for a nighttime salamander hike. It helps if you know where people have found salamanders in your area, so ask a local nature center where to go. Remember to be a good guest when you visit your salamander friends. Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but muddy footprints.

Help build a salamander/ amphibian crossing. There are some places where salamanders (and frogs and turtles) cross roads year after year. If you know of such a place, find out if they need crossing guards during rainy nights. Or whether they need help building a safe place for amphibians to cross.

Make a Salamander Armband. Use a cardboard tube to make a salamander you can wear on your sleeve. Directions at National Wildlife Federation. 

Keep a Salamander journal. Draw the kinds of salamanders you see. Over the summer, keep track of them. Draw their eggs, and the baby salamanders. Check a field guide to see what sorts of salamanders live in your region.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from the publisher.


  1. Makes me want to go salamander watching!

  2. I think kids who live in areas where there are salamanders, would have a great time keeping a journal of the life cycle of salamanders. Excellent activity. It took me a long time to make friends with the small ones in Florida. Not sure I ever did with the large ones in Brazil that occupied my bathroom walls at night.

  3. Sounds perfect for kids with interests like this. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

  4. This looks like a fascinating book for youngsters. I think I'll check it out. Thanks for the review.

  5. Salamanders are common science classroom critters. This book would be very helpful in showing students the critters' natural environment. Thanks!