Rick Lieder -- painter, illustrator, photographer, husband of the brilliant novelist/playwright Kathe Koja -- waits ever-so-patiently in his suburban Detroit back-yard with his camera, capturing candid, lively photos of bees, birds, bugs, and now, in a new book of photos with a beautiful accompanying poem by Helen Frost, fireflies.

With Among a Thousand Fireflies, Lieder brings us his most evocative and technically accomplished photography yet, shooting fireflies under nearly impossible light, blending long exposures of fireflies on the wing with pin-sharp macrofocus shots, for a series of photos that will make you gasp with delight and personalize the mysterious lights of the night in a way like nothing you've ever seen.

The accompanying poem by Helen Frost, who collaborated with Lieder on Step Gently Out and Sweep Up the Sun, tells the story of the lights, the lonely, impossible romance of the fireflies who seek each other out in the dark. It's a sweet love story, told in language that a small child can follow, but that move the adults who read it with or to them.

Speaking of children: the technical mastery of Lieder's photographic illustration may be lost on a child, but their expressive beauty and character can't be missed by even the youngest of readers. Lieder has imparted (or captured) so much character in his subjects, and so much sweep in his own back yard. It's a gentle, forceful reminder that our own everyday worlds hide marvels.

Rick Lieder was kind enough to let me run a small gallery of three of my favorite photos, which you'll find below. I hope you'll be inspired to seek out Lieder and Frost's books, which are extraordinary and nothing like anything else between covers.

Among a Thousand Fireflies [Helen Frost and Rick Lieder/Candlewick]