Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 14, 2010

Big Night for Salamanders

Yesterday I went to the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, MA to hear my friend Sarah Lamstein talk about her new picture book, Big Night for Salamanders. Sarah read her book, projecting its images on a screen so it would be easy for us to follow the pictures. The book is told from two points of view, and Sarah made her voice fast for the boy’s section and slow for the salamander’s.

Sarah offered a lot of background on the habits of amphibians and the occasional reptile or mammal
and posed great questions for little ones. After making sure the children understood that a vernal pool was water that only appears in spring, and showing us before –water—and after—dry land – pictures, Sarah asked, “Would a fish like to live in a vernal pool?”


“And why would a salamander want to lay egg in a place where there weren’t any fish?”

You get it, yes? Those hungry hungry fish. Sarah showed us gorgeous slides of eggs in jelly masses and salamanders at various stages. The children hunted for plastic yellow-spotted salamanders in the miniature woodland Sarah set up with dried leaves and logs, making the hiding of the salamanders, except on one rainy night in spring, come alive.

I liked Daniel, who immediately wanted Sarah to read the book again, and two-year-old Sasha, who mentioned in passing to a time, “when I was a salamander.” And when Sarah announced she was going to tell a joke, Sasha broke into peals of appreciative laughter before Sarah had a chance to start. It was a lovely time.



  1. Oh, what springtime fun. Sarah is visiting with our elementary school at the end of the month, and I can tell the kids are in for a treat!

  2. I must drop a congrats to Sarah! We’re Vermont College alums.

  3. Oh, this made me smile. I remember when I was a salamander, too.

  4. Sarah is such a pro, asking the greatest questions, and providing amazing photos. And the whole event was a reminder of the many tales and profound knowledge that go past the edges of one slim book.

  5. I have so much Vermont College envy! The greatest people seem to be there.

  6. Those were the good old days.

  7. Look at those gorgeous pictures! Sounds like it was a squirmy good time.

  8. It was not only lovely for me that Jeannine was there, it was lucky for the Hitchcock Center’s educational director, Ted Watt, who, realizing the scope of Jeannine’s work relating to the natural world, became overjoyed.
    “Girls Who Looked Under Rocks is a wonderful book!” he crowed.
    Sarah Lamstein

  9. Sarah, your generosity knows no bounds.

  10. How wonderful. Sasha’s laughter at the word “joke” made my night, somehow.

  11. It sounds like it was a great event. I was hoping to get there, but work prevented it. Glad you were there for Sarah!

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