Step Gently Out is an ode to the insects all around us. The comforting meter and rhyme of the poem and the progression from day into night make this an excellent bedtime book. The enlarged photographs of insects work for the bigger audience of a read-aloud as well.
This book is a perfect union of text and pictures. Frost’s text is a poem consisting of twelve couplets which exhort youngsters to become attuned to the world of insects. The opening lines are primarily observational: Step gently out, be still, and watch a blade of grass./An ant climbs up to look around. A honeybee flies past. By the time the poem ends, on the twenty-second page, the tone is reverential: the creatures shine with stardust, they’re splashed with morning dew./ In song and dance and stillness, they share the world with you. Lieder’s photographs transition from sharply focused close-ups of insects going about their daily lives to the awe-inspiring sights of a firefly’s luminescent abdomen in a moonlit field and an orb weaver spider’s web bedecked with jeweled dewdrops. You might worry that enlargements of insects could be frightening for youngsters, but I assure you that the response that’s elicited is one of wonder and gratitude for the meeker creatures of the planet earth. Step Gently Out is a soothing tribute to insects which is immensely satisfying for all ages.