In the Small, Small Pond
by Denise Fleming
Glorious illustrations reveal the large number of creatures whose lives revolve around a small pond. On the first page, a child stares wide-eyed at a frog leaps into the water with only its legs visible. Fleming’s unique art style (she pours colored cotton pulp through stencils) gives the bank of the pond a granular quality that evokes sand and mud. The second scene takes youngsters underwater to the frog’s eye-view, where he’s surrounded by tadpoles (“wiggle, jiggle, tadpoles wriggle”). A mother goose and her three goslings march into the pond in the third scene, as the frog observes them. As the pictures alternate between scenes below and above the pond’s surface, youngsters will soon notice that the frog appears in every one of them—though it may take some detective work to locate him in some cases. Swallows scoop down (“dabble, dip, tails flip”) to catch minnows, the leaves change color and snow begins to fall, until finally, on the last page, the frog burrows beneath the sandy bottom for a long winter’s nap: “Cold night,/ sleep tight,/ small, small/ pond.” An ideal bedtime book and science lesson, all rolled into one.