Big Night for Salamanders

Illustrated by Carol Benioff
Boyds Mills Press
Ages 4–9, 40 pages
ISBN 9781932425987


On the first warm rainy night of spring — Big Night — spotted salamanders by the hundreds crawl out of the woods and down to a vernal pool, where they mate and lay their eggs.

Evan and his parents know the salamanders need their help, for a road interrupts the salamanders’ path to the vernal pool. Crossing a road at night is dangerous, especially for small amphibians. The family slows the traffic. They carry salamanders across the road. But the cars keep coming, and the hour is late. How can the family help these delicate creatures cross the road in safety?

Evan has a solution…




  • Smithsonian Notable Book for Children 2010
  • Massachusetts Book Awards “Must-Read” Book 2011
  • Audubon Magazine’s 2012 List of Notable Books
  • Science Books and Films’ Summer Reading Guide 2011
  • Society of School Librarians International, Honor Book
  • Keystone to Reading Book Award List 2011-2012
  • Chickadee Award – short list


Dear Sarah,
I am a former school librarian from Southern Vermont. After I retired I started doing a weekly preschool story hour at my wonderful town public library. It evolved into a Zoom story hour during this complicated year. Happily, the cohort has evolved to include a much wider age range and participants from public, private and home schools.

I wait all year for the opportunity to share Big Night with my group. What a wonderful book!

Big Night has it all: appealing story; solid science; effective design in terms of text placement and font allowing for layered engagement and access to information for readers of differing ability and experience; illustrations that invite multiple readings; and the sort of back matter librarians dream of as we teach about internal organizers, vetting information, and tools for going farther.

I can’t imagine how many children found their way outside on a rainy spring night because of your work, only to return him damp and smiling with the visceral memory of a wet salamander in hand being gently placed on safe ground. This is the way stewards of the land of born. Thank you so much for Big Night.
Susan Hessey


…The text elegantly blends fiction and nonfiction, alternating between lyrical, italicized descriptions of the salamanders and their movements and a straightforward narrative about the family helping them. The use of present tense lends immediacy and suspense to the tale, and Benioff’s gouache illustrations impart a sense of wonder…. This is an excellent addition to science units and could be paired with Anne Mazer’s The Salamander Room for a super salamander storytime.
School Library Journal

…the gouache paintings add color and drama to this informative picture book. A solid choice for primary-grade science units.

A great conservation first read about salamanders for young folks; pointedly notes the perils these amphibians face when crossing a road during spring rains. Maybe this book will start a revolution within the next generation, a movement to bring about the closure of roads near vernal pools or to demand the building of strategically placed road underpasses for use by the wee creatures of the earth.
Center for North American Herpetology

It is a pleasure seeing a child of color in a story where there is no mention of it at all.
Kids Lit blog

This is an inspirational story to read aloud and an engaging way for children to learn that they can take action to help resolve conflicts between humans and the natural environment.
Science Books & Films


Click here for a downloadable classroom guide for Big Night for Salamanders. – Created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

The Vernal Pool Association aims to create awareness and educate others, particularly students and teachers, about vernal pool ecology, the local environment, biodiversity, and the protection of our resources.

Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2, Melissa Stewart, Stenhouse, 2014.

Interactive Science Wheels: Reproducible Easy–to-Make Manipulatives that Teach About Life Cycles, Animals, Plants, Weather, Space, and More, Donald Silver and Patricia Wigune, Scholastic Teaching Resources, 2013.

Where You Can Purchase

Your local bookstore – Indiebound
Barnes and Noble