nonfiction nuggets…take time to stop and stare

Step Gently Out, written by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder

If you could record your conversations for a week with your children, or your spouse, or your friends, how many references to speed would there be?

“Hurry up, now.”
“We’re kind of in a hurry.”
“I’ve got to run.”
“We have a busy week ahead of us.”
“Come along now, we’ve got to be on time.”

The soul-deadening pace at which we fly through days, meals, conversations; the rush to get to the next thing; the oblivion to what is near, what is fleeting, what is tender, and soul-stirring, especially what is tiny and unnoticed — all of this is a crying shame, isn’t it?

Helen Frost and Rick Lieder have combined talents to draw our attention quietly, yet powerfully, to some of the fascinating minutia  around us.  “Step gently out,” Frost coaxes us.  You cannot step gently, when you’re in a blasted hurry.  Frost lures us to slow way down;  to hold still, in fact; to spend time observing the eloquent, overlooked world of  insects in our backyards.  A busy ant.  A caterpillar dressed to rival Mardi Gras performers, yellow puffy pompoms parading along his spine, lime green hairs feathering, cascading, sprouting from his sleek black body, antennae like ornate, metallic sculptures, red stop-light head…inching, acrobatting, along an emerald highwire of a blade of grass.  Incredible.

Frost actually employs very little description.  Her poetic, sparse text invites us to do the looking.  Rick Lieder provides us with sumptuous, close-up views of these jeweled wonders in his stunning photographs.  We get to do the observing ourselves.  Cameos of the featured insects with a few interesting facts about each one are featured in a final, two-page spread.  The book is as quiet and gentle as their summons.

The hope clearly is, that this collection will entice you to examine, enjoy, wonder at, with new gentleness, the gorgeous world of nature that is all around you.  It’s a beautiful book for the youngest of lapsitters, right on up.

Here’s the Amazon link:Step Gently Out