The Secret Stream
by Kimberly Ridley; illus. by Megan Elizabeth Baratta
40 pages; ages 6-8
Tilbury House Publishers, 2022
theme: streams, ecology, animals
My life begins when gray-bellied clouds fling down rain that seeps underground, filling crevices in soil and stone until… out I spill from a spring in the heart of the forest.
This is the story of a headwater stream told by the stream itself! The stream narrates its journey to the lowlands, sometimes burbling, sometimes tumbling over a jumble of boulders. Along the way, it introduces us to the animals that live in its waters and beneath the stones of its streambed, and those living along the banks. We meet nest builders and lodge builders and occasional visitors large and small.
What I like about this book: I like the first-person narrative. When we meet streams in the wild, we can hear them murmur and gurgle, but who knew they had stories to tell? I like the internal rhymes, and the onomatopoeia and verbs that give this story splash and dash! I like how some text tells the story while other text explains things such as how animals see underwater.
And of course, there is back matter! An author’s note dives into what headwater streams are, and the ecosystem they create. There’s a great section called “Cast of Characters” that explains more about each animal living in the stream ecosystem. A glossary and “how to protect streams” sections round out the book. This is a wonderful resource for kids – and adults – who want to explore the streams where they live.
Beyond the Books:
Explore a stream, or a creek. Each has its own personality, based on how large or small it is, and the type of environment it runs through. What plants and trees grow alongside your stream? What birds, insects, and other animals do you notice visiting the stream? You might find tracks in the mud showing who visits at night.
What lives in the stream? You might see small fish, frogs, crayfish, or even a muskrat. Look for insects on the water’s surface and along the streambed. Look under rocks to see who’s hiding there – and then replace the rock when you are finished. Draw pictures of some of the animals you meet.
Listen to the sound of your stream. Try recording your stream at different times of the day, at different seasons of the year. Listen to the animal sounds while you’re sitting quietly. What do you hear?
Kimberly Ridley will join us on Monday to talk about how wonder and curiosity inspire her writing. Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review pdf provided by the publisher.