Candlewick, Picture Book, all ages

"STEP GENTLY OUT has the feel of a classic."

Peter Sieruta


This picture book pairs Rick Lieder's light-filled photographs with my poem about stepping out into the world and discovering the creatures who live all around us.

Watch the trailer (beautiful video images) and get more updates on the website Rick has created for news about STEP GENTLY OUT.


State Lists:

2015 Bill Martin Jr. Children's Picture Book Award nominee, Kansas Reading Association

2014-2015 Star Of The North Picture Book Award, a Minnesota Youth Reading Award

2015-2016 Tennessee's Volunteer State Book Award for the Primary Division (Grades K-2)

2013 Texas 2 X 2 Reading List (books recommended for age 2 through grade 2)

2013 Maine Chickadee Award, one of ten picture book finalists.


End of Year Lists and awards:

Nerdy Book Club Poetry Awards

Kirkus Reviews, top 100 children's books of 2012, selected by Vicky Smith

International Reading Association, Anita Silvey's picks: Best-of-2012

Starred selection on Bank Street College of Education's List: The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2013, ages 5 and under.

STEP GENTLY OUT has been named an ALA Notable Book in the category "Books for All Ages."


quotes from children

"Step Gently Out's illustrations make me feel like I am staring through a microscopic view of the leaf." -4th grader

"It makes me feel peaceful." 2nd grader


Interviews about STEP GENTLY OUT

Erika Rohrman, in Kirkus Reviews.

5Q Poet Interview Series on Sylvia Vardell's "Poetry for Children".


STEP GENTLY OUT featured on

School Library Journal, A Fuse #8 Production


Anita Silvey's Book-a-Day Almanac


Boing Boing.


Richie's Picks reviews STEP GENTLY OUT.


See more of Rick Lieder's photographs.


First review, a KIRKUS STAR, and so beautifully written.

"Breathtaking photos and an exquisite poem capture a bug’s-eye view of nature.

One can only hope the present collaboration will be the first of many between nature photographer Lieder and Frost (Hidden, 2011, etc.), one of the most gifted, versatile children’s poets writing today, for the synthesis of word and image in this short picture book is so finely wed that the final page turn leaves one begging for more. While Frost’s lightly rhymed declarative verse encourages children to experience the natural world with care and openness to the tiny wonders of insect life around them, Lieder’s richly colored intimate close ups offer every reason why. “Step gently out,” Frost advises, pointing out how “the creatures shine with stardust, / they’re splashed with morning dew. / In song and dance and stillness, they share the world with you.” Golden-hued endpapers catch a honeybee and firefly mid-flight; the volume also spotlights the less-frequently spied praying mantis, katydid and damselfly, alongside more common insects. For precise readers wishing to know, for example, that the fuzzy, stoplight-colored creature twisting around a blade of grass happens to be a tussock moth caterpillar, the volume’s endnotes include brief descriptions of the featured species.

A dazzlingly poetic photo album of the insect world for tots on up. (Picture book. 2 & up)"


And a second starred review, from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:

Captivating photography gives readers a closeup view of the world of insects, as described by a gently contemplative poem. Lieder captures the small miracles of a bumblebee in mid-flight, a spider dangling from a dewy branch, and a firefly’s flash, while Frost urges readers to be mindful of events that seem insignificant: “A spider spins a silken thread/ to step across the air./ A praying mantis looks at you—/ do you know she’s there?” Working in concert, the words and images achieve a Zenlike calm that also hints at the complicated web of life unfolding all around. Endnotes discuss the 11 featured insects in greater detail. Ages 2–5.


Third starred review, from Booklist!

« Step Gently Out.

Frost, Helen (Author) , Lieder, Rick (Illustrator)

Mar 2012. 32 p. Candlewick, hardcover, $15.99. (9780763656010).

Nature’s miracles are often small and hard to capture, but in a syncopated harmony of text and image, Frost and Lieder manage to depict tiny moments as seen through a bugs-eye-view of the world. The quiet poem begins with an invitation to “Step gently out” and, from there, to observe a blade of grass. This may seem a dull activity, but it turns out to be full of wonder: a cricket leaps and sings; a spider spins a silken web; a firefly flashes through the evening air. The soothing, meditative language bursts with beautiful imagery that begs to be read aloud—“the / creatures / shine with / stardust. / Then they’re / splashed / with / morning / dew.”—and the photographs, taken at close range, magnify wings in flight and dewdrops on webs. Praying mantises and moths may not be known for their loveliness, but in the collaborators’ capable hands, they are beautiful. Moving from day to night, the poem makes for a soothing bedtime lullaby that includes a reminder to children about the book’s small creatures: “In song and dance / and stillness, / they share the world / with you.” — Ann Kelley