Reading & Exploring Wetlands with your Child


This year the theme for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is Wicked Wetland Wonders—and here at the Gardens we have an abundance of wetlands! Many children have spent afternoons catching frogs while participating in summer camps, field trips, and pond investigations in the Children’s Garden pond. There are so many other wetlands here and all around Maine to learn about and explore as a family.

Earlier in the spring we heard about The Big Night and all the action our education assistant Bridget experienced looking for salamanders making their way to our vernal pool to breed. What is happening now in these vernal pools at the Gardens and around the state? How can you teach your child more about this crucial habitat that they can later explore? I have just the book!A spotted salamander on The Big Night

The Secret Pool written by Kimberly Ridley and illustrated by Rebekah Raye takes children on an enchanted journey into a vernal pool. Ridley writes the story from the water’s perspective and uses rhyme, imagery, and intense detail so you feel transported into the wetland. Each meticulous illustration is accompanied by the poetic story of the water and its inhabitants as well as informative sidebars fun facts. This book is equally a thrilling story of survival and an educational guide to vernal pools. In this book you will follow the lives of spotted salamanders and wood frogs as they change completely before the vernal pool dries up!

The Secret Pool has won several awards but the one that is most dear to our heart here at CMBG is the Lupine Award. This award, presented each year by the Maine Library Association, recognizes a Maine author or illustrator for creating a book with a Maine focus. This award is inspired by the book Miss Rumphius (one of the featured books in our Alfond Children’s’ Garden and quoted in its entrance), a story about the author’s aunt who believed “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

Continuing the wetland theme, and after creating their first book together and getting many awards, Kimberly Ridley and Rebekah Raye teamed up again to publish The Secret Bay. In this book, your child is transported to an estuary! These brackish waters where rivers meet the sea are home to many plants and creatures that aren’t found anywhere else! Similar to The Secret Pool, Ridley tells the story of the tidal waters that support the lives of clams, crabs, mud minnows, and diamondback terrapins—the only turtle to live in brackish water! Once again, the illustrations bring the wetland to life along with the informative sidebars that provide greater insight into the lives of the inhabitants. 

After you read the intriguing stories of these wetlands, get out and explore and see what wicked wetland wonders you can discover!

Both of these books are published here in Maine by Tilbury House Publishers and can be found wherever you purchase your favorite books.

~Karen Jones, Summer Camp Coordinator