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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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From the Forest to the Farm

Debbie Glade reviews two educational paperback books from Dawn Publications that would make a great addition to any child’s library.

Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek ($8.95, Dawn Publications, ages 3-8) teaches readers about the most common animals one would find in the forest. Written by Marianne Berkes in rhyme, each page features a different animal, revealing where that species typically lives in the forest and what the offspring are called. For example, did you know that a baby possum is called a joey? The story is wonderfully complemented by unique paper cut collage illustrations by artist, Jill Dubin. What I really like about this book is all the educational information included in the back. Here you’ll find more details about the animals you can clearly see in the forest and those that are often hidden. There are tips from the author about how to be a wildlife detective, suggested indoor activities to help young readers learn more about the forest and tips from the illustrator about how to do a collage. There are even lyrics to a song, written by Berkes, set to the tune of “Over in the Meadow.”

Since I grow organic vegetables of my own, I can totally appreciate Molly’s Organic Farm ($8.95, Dawn Publications, ages 4-10), written by Carol L. Malnor. Through the frolics of a homeless cat named, Molly, readers discover what life is like on an organic vegetable farm. I love that the book is based upon a true story of a small orange cat, that one day appeared on a small organic farm in Northern California. The story cleverly weaves in educational details about organic farming, while keeping the child’s interest in the story with the help of Molly’s assorted activities. Readers want to know if Molly will find a home come winter. The lovely watercolor illustrations by Trina L. Hunner bring the cute cat and the story to life. In the back of the book is more in-depth educational information about the farm, info about the seasons of the farm and the true story of Molly the cat, as told by the illustrator who once lived near the farm that Molly calls home.

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