Rhythmic cadences and a dark palette are paired to explore the shadowy setting and circle of life for creatures that live near a pond. The majority of the book is a cumulative poemThis is the water/ the deep, still water/ that filled the pond/ by Annas house./ This is the algae/ the jade green algae...though Franco abandons the format, somewhat awkwardly, with two closing stanzas in Annas voice. The algae is eaten by a mayfly nymph, the mayfly by a beetle, and a frog, snake, skunk, owl, raccoon and coyote make appearances, too. The overall tone is matter-of-fact yet lyrical, and Francos ending Facts to Pond-er offers kid-pleasing details about the books creatures. Vitales somber, nighttime panoramasoil on wood, with a strong horizontal grainfeature stylized figures that, while striking, may detach viewers from the insect gobbling and egg stealing described. Annas facial expression is static, as if she were a carved figurehead on an ancient ship. Although the text is sometimes difficult to read against the muted paintings, young naturalists and poets will be intrigued nonetheless. Ages 48. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.