Step Gently Out: kid's poem illustrated with gorgeous macro-photo portraits of backyard bugs

Step Gently Out is children's picture book in which poet Helen Frost's verse accompanies the incredible garden insect photographs of artist/photographer Rick Lieder. I've written here many times about Rick's Bugdreams photos, and they never fail to impress and move me. Lieder's photographic portraits of bugs are all the sweeter for his method, which is to patiently crouch in his Michigan back-yard for hours and hours, waiting for the shot; it's a wonderful alternative to the traditional dead-bug-on-a-pin photos I grew up with.

Frost's poem is a sweet accompaniment to Lieder's pictures, a very light narration for photos that really speak for themselves. We got this book this week, and it's a real favorite with me and my four-year-old, and has sparked many conversations and bug-watching expeditions on the way home from day-care. To this end, there's a nice entomological appendix with interesting facts about all the bugs featured in the book.

Stunning close-up photography and a lyrical text invite us to look more closely at the world and prepare to be amazed.

What would happen if you walked very, very quietly and looked ever so carefully at the natural world outside? You might see a cricket leap, a moth spread her wings, or a spider step across a silken web.

In simple, evocative language, Helen Frost offers a hint at the many tiny creatures around us.

And in astonishing photographs, Rick Lieder captures the glint of a katydid’s eye, the glow of a firefly, and many more living wonders just awaiting discovery.

For our Michigander readers, Rick and Helen will have a gallery show at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art featuring the photos, and including a signing on April 6.

Step Gently Out


  1. That ant on the leaf tip looks like it’s already infected by the cordyceps fungus.  I wouldn’t worry too much about killing it.

  2. How delightful! I used to love spending hours laying on my stomach on our lawn, just watching bugs go about their business. And the ones in my mom’s garden!

  3. Wonderful pictures, but last I checked, Fort Wayne is in Indiana, not Michigan. Although it is somewhat close to Michigan.

  4. Man, I love fireflies. Probably the coolest bug ever. Fun to look at, they don’t bite or sting and they always draw pleasant memories of childhood summer nights.

  5. i have a tiny person in my life (a not-quite-1-year-old-cousin) whom i may just get this for, as she loves being read to, and i think it’s important to impress upon younguns that bugs are living things, too, and can be beautiful and interesting just like anything else in nature.
    i’m biased, i supposed, because my favorite book as a kid was the golden guide to insects.  :)

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