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Over in a River from Dawn Publications

Over in a River: Flowing out to the Sea (Dawn Publications; Paperback, $8.95; Hardcover, $16.95; Ages 3-8), written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jill Dubin, is reviewed today by Rita Zobayan.

Over in a River Flowing Out to the SeaOver in a River is a thin book fat with rhythm, beautiful art, and information on the geography and wildlife inhabitants of ten North American rivers. Listed for ages 3-8, there are plenty of activities and content to entertain and educate the range of that age group.

Illustration copyright 2013 Jill Dubin
Illustration copyright 2013 Jill Dubin

For younger children, this is a counting book (numbers 1-10) with each river’s and creature’s information presented in descriptive rhyme scheme. The words are chosen carefully, describing the animals’ homes, behavior, and correct baby names. As a bonus, there is a hidden native animal in each habitat just waiting to be spotted! Older readers will pick up on all that information, but will also notice the map and geographic locations of each of the rivers.

For the Colorado River:

Over in a river/In their lodge built with sticks/Lived a busy mother beaver/And her little kits six./”Gnaw,” said the mother./”We gnaw,” said the six./So they gnawed on bark/Near their lodge built with sticks.

The paper collage artwork is colorful, textured, and detailed. The animals seem almost alive.  Look at the playful Mississippi River otters that seem to be sliding down the river and off the page right to the reader!

In addition to the entertaining and educational rhyme, the book is chockfull of information that parents and teachers can use to educate children on river life (or older children can read for themselves). How rivers are flow, watersheds and tributaries are explained, as are specific details about the ten rivers (Hudson, Rio Grande, Sacramento, and Mississippi, to name a few). Further information on the river inhabitants—manatees, great blue herons, mallards, dragonflies, pacific tree frogs, and more—can be found.  Did you know that manatees migrate to different areas as temperatures change or that muskrats build the entrances to their homes underwater?

Both the author Marianne Berkes and the illustrator Jill Dubin include tips, such as activities, discussion topics, and art projects to extend children’s knowledge. A resource guide for further reading (books and internet sites) is provided. Finally, a song, “Over in a River,” with lyrics and music is included.

Over in a River: Flowing out to the Sea makes for a great read and a fantastic resource for an elementary school project on rivers and river life.

Other books by Marianne Berkes reviewed on this blog:

What’s in the Garden?

Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peak

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration

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The Littlest Gardeners

WhatsinGardenAs an avid gardener myself, I am always interested in reading gardening books for kids. What’s in the Garden ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 3-8) is a brand new book that is sure to get children interested in not only learning to grow their own food,  but also in healthy eating and cooking.

Marianne Berkes, author of many nature books, shares her love of gardening and cooking as she writes about different fruits and veggies in catchy rhyming verse. Each two-page spread features a different fruit or vegetable and a simple recipe using that food, such as applesauce, carrot muffins, blueberry pie and more. You’ll love the colorful illustrations by Chris Arbo, who wonderfully paints children eating or preparing the food as well as the fruits and vegetables themselves. Check out her illustration of an apple. It looks like a photograph!

In the book’s back matter is a list of the foods featured with their history and information about how they grow.  There are also tips about growing, descriptions of plant parts, cooking vocabulary and additional resources.

Getting young children interested in learning about gardening and the foods they eat is so important. As a parent I know that makes a big difference in their ability to not only make healthy choices, but also to appreciate what it takes to grow safe, healthy and delicious whole foods. Curious children thrive in school, in work and in life. And gardening is one terrific way to pique their curiosity.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Blowholes and Blubber: The Wild and Wonderful World of Whales


Reviewed by Debbie Glade

My husband’s fascination with whales has made me to want to learn more about these amazing creatures myself. Fortunately A Tale of Wild Orcas: Granny’s Clan ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 5-9), a book about a large family of orcas, led by a 100-year-old granny, was just waiting for me to read.

What you will first notice about this book are the big, bold and beautiful pastel illustrations by artist Ann Jones who lives on Orca Island in the state of Washington. Her ability to capture the Orcas’ realistic movement in the water is impressive.

This book is based upon actual research conducted on killer whales, and the story is a true one of an actual family of whales, written by whale expert, Dr. Sally Hodson. Readers learn how the family of whales travels together, what they see when they swim through the sea and all about the sounds they make – sonar clicks and echoed calls. They will also learn about how Orcas hunt for food, what they eat and how they steer clear of potential danger.

In the back of the book is information about the real family of whales this book is based upon as well as intriguing, vital information about this species of whale and resources for learning more. Dawn Publications offers a collection of downloadable free activities for teaching with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I’m sure there are many teachers and students out there who can appreciate it as much as I do.

For another great children’s book about the sea, read our interview with Sophie Webb, author of Far From Shore.

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Quilts and Nature, A Perfect Combination

I welcomed a chance to review Nature’s Patchwork Quilt: Understanding Habitats ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 4-10) because the earth needs to be saved and the best way to do that is to encourage kids to one day become scientists. In addition to that, I just love books about animals and the environment. My own daughter is studying Geology in college, and I can testify that it was books like these that, from an early age, piqued her interest in the subject of studying the earth form. Written by Mary Miche, Nature’s Patchwork Quilt is a simple and clever way to present the many major habitats one finds on our planet.

Each beautiful 2-page spread of the book is visually presented as a quilt, with different plants and animals featured in each patch. The illustrations by Consie Powell are colorful and inviting.

Readers will learn about rainforests, prairies, the Arctic, lakes and ponds, ranches and farms, cities and more. I love the way the author, an environmental educator, weaves important vocabulary words into the text, such as biodiversity, food chain, extinct and more. In the back of the book are Tips from the Author with activities and information about environmentalists and other interesting facts. Nature’s Patchwork is a great way to introduce your young reader to the world of animals and their habitats.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade.

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