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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Critter Counting: Blue Ridge Babies by Laura Sperry Gardner


Up in the Appalachians, where the tall trees grow, you can count on plenty of critter to count and get to know.

The early summer trees and grass are thick and green, so sharpen your eyes and see who can be seen!

OVER IN THE BLUE RIDGE IN THE LEAF-DAPPLED SUN LIVED A GENTLE MOTHER DEER AND HER LITTLE FAWN ONE.

"HIDE!" SAID THE MOTHER. "I HIDE," SAID THE ONE.

"SO THEY HID IN THE FOREST FULL OF LEAF-DAPPLED SUN!

The little fawn's coat is dappled with light spots and can vanish into the sun-spangled greenery around him. But what about two baby bears gobbling ripe fruit in the berry patch? They don't have to hide. Their mother is an apex predator and can defend her babies well, but they need to eat all they can before winter comes through.

"FORAGE!" SAID THEIR MOTHER. "WE FORAGE," SAYS THE TWO.

Meanwhile, in a flowering dogwood tree, what do we see? A proud mother cardinal and her bright fledglings THREE.

"FLY," SAID THE MOTHER! "WE FLY!" SAID THE THREE, AS THEY FLEW FROM THEIR NEST HIGH UP IN THE TREE..

And nearby in a white oak tree Mother Owl is also encouraging her four owlets to soar.

"HOOT!" SAID THEIR MOTHER. "WE HOOT!" REPLIED THE FOUR.

And on the hillside nearby, Mother Groundhog has her own lesson to teach:

"DIG!" SHE SAYS!

(Bedtime comes early for her little groundhogs, because her chucklings will have to get up very early in the spring to dig a den to make sure winter is on its way out for all the others.)

And what do the other little forest animals learn to do? Well, in Laura Sperry Gardner's joyful rhyming seasonal story, Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3: A Counting Book (Page Street Kids, 2021), the six young foxes practice pouncing, seven little bunnies must learn to nibble, eight little squirrels must practice their skitters and all ten little fishies swim swiftly. And what do ten baby salamanders do? They SLITHER!

With an appendix that explains the notable fauna of the Blue Ridge area of the Eastern Forest area of North America, and the music to the familiar tune that goes way back to the popular song "Three Little Fishes." and with lively meter and rhyming text, this is a book that teaches one or a group the fun of counting as well as the flora and fauna of our beloved eastern woodlands. Says School Library Journal, "artist Stephanie Fizer Coleman's illustrations, in some places displaying a translucence-like tissue-paper collage, are bright and inviting for the prereaders who are going to adore this."

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