The latest addition to Berkes and Dubin’s Over In . . . series of nature books features 10 animals found in and around North American rivers. Using the rhyme scheme and cadence of the counting rhyme “Over in the Meadow,” the verses introduce families of manatees, blue herons, salmon, mallard ducks, water snakes, beavers, dragonflies, muskrats, tree frogs, and otters. . . . Illustrating each verse is a pleasing collage created with painted, textured papers. The extensive back matter offers supplementary facts as well as musical accompaniment and suggestions for teachers and parents. A colorful, informative picture book.
— ALA Booklist (October 17, 2013)
From one manatee calf paddling in Florida’s St. Johns River to 10 otter pups sliding in the Mississippi, Berkes adapts the familiar counting rhyme to introduce river animals, their baby names, their actions and some U.S. geography. . . . Each spread includes the animal and its one to 10 young, shown in its environment; a hidden, additional animal; a map with the river labeled; a numeral; and one to 10 cattails as well as the appropriate verse. The final spread presents a large map of the United States with each river and its respective animal(s) labeled. Extensive backmatter includes an illustrator’s note describing Dubin’s research and methods for making her cut-paper collages, which are enhanced with pastels. . . . There is further information about the animals and rivers described, suggested activities, and a page with the song and chords.
— Kirkus Reviews (July 31, 2013)
Berkes uses the rhythm of the familiar song “Over in the Meadow” to highlight some U.S. rivers and the animals that call them home. Each stanza focuses on an animal parent with an incrementally larger group of babies. The names of the babies (pups, ducklings, smolts) are italicized. The number of offspring is colored to help attract attention. Two-thirds of each page is dedicated to an illustration of the animals in their habitats. Salmon leap high over the water, ducks waddle along the shore. The other third includes the text, a number, and a map of the United States with the river marked where the animal might be found. . . . The illustrations are done in collage, adding a sense of motion and energy to the dynamic lyrics. They attract readers’ attention and create depth (including space to hide an additional animal in each illustration). The prolific back matter allows this simple text to be used and extended in a classroom. Children will enjoy the rhyme and gain a new appreciation of the river environment.
— School Library Journal (October 1, 2013)
This is a counting song about rivers and the denizens of their riparian habitats sung the old children’s tune “Over in the Meadow,” music and lyrics provided in the back of the book. As they sing along, readers meet in two-page spreads 10 river animals and their young one to ten from manatee, heron, salmon, mallard duck, water snake, beaver, dragonfly, muskrat, frogs, and otter in their habitats described in appropriate lyrics with name of the young highlighted in italics. To add interest each page has an animal hidden in the habitat for children to find. Reinforcing their counting are numerals one to 10 and one to 10 cattails located at the bottom of the pages.
But this is more than a counting book; it is also an introduction to geography. Each animal is associated with one of the major river systems shown on its own individual map of the United States: St. Johns, Hudson, Columbia, Ohio, Colorado, Rio Grande, Missouri, Sacramento, and Mississippi. All riversystems with their associated animals are then summarized on one large map on the last page. Back matter provides accounts of the river systems and animals along with suggested activities.
Not to go unmentioned is the unique and outstanding artwork for which the artist employed colored paper collages, pastels, and colored pencils to produce illustrations that for a children’s book are in a class by themselves. Both adults and children will find this book highly appealing.
— Science Books & Films (November 2013)
This is a delightful book, written by an educator, that is sure to draw young children in. It is written interactively, giving children cause to explore each page, and in rhyming numbers, making it a counting game as well. The illustrator has created lively creatures that fill each page with energy and whimsy, bringing a smile to one’s face as the pages are turned.
The end of the book contains followup information about both rivers and the creatures that inhabit them. There are also personal tips for further study by both the writer and the illustrator. The book will provide hour after hour of fun and instruction. Let customers know it will make a very special gift.
— Retailing Insight – Anna Jedrziewski (September 2013)
This is a delightful counting and rhyming book that introduces children to manatees, herons, salmon, beavers, and other river animals and their babies. Simple maps show what part of the country these animals can be found. Additional material at the end of the book talks about the importance of rivers and gives more information about the rivers featured in this book. (Did you know that the U.S. has more than 250,000 rivers and Canada has even more?!) More details about the animals in the book, as well as nature-related tips from the author and illustrator, are included. (I love how Jill Dubin shares how she illustrates a book.) Finally, kids can sing along to the words (and accompanying notes, for those who play an instrument) to the song, “Over in a River.”
— Susan Heim, Chicken Soup for the Soul Editor (August 26, 2013)
It is a rare gem for parents and teachers of elementary students to find a book that is entertaining, educational, and fun but Over in a River fits the bill. Second grade level readers will enjoy the rhyming text while younger children will enjoy the counting activity in each stanza. Second graders can manage the text independently but the lively picture book will be a great group story for a science lesson in the first or second grade classroom or read aloud to younger children.
Included in the wonderful rhyming story are fun filled facts about each species and
their natural habitats. The illustrations are engaging and fun for students of all ages while the text is filled with facts about nature, animals and animal babies. Second grade readers will have so much fun reading, counting, and playing I spy with the colorful illustrations they will not realize how much they are learning along the way.
The author also includes several extra pages of activities and lesson ideas for second grade teachers and parents. There is information about rivers, animals, and habitats but there is so much more. Also included are activities that incorporate music, singing, and dance for second grade readers. The illustrator chimes in with many ideas about drawing animals and how to make collages. All of these fabulous ideas will appeal to second grade readers and enhance any lessons brought to the classroom increasing both second grade
reading interest and comprehension.
— Grade Reading – Sue Poduska (August 26, 2013)
In this book, children will learn about counting, rhyming, the rivers of North America, and the animals that live in those rivers; it goes to 10 different rivers in North America and introduces an animal. Readers can count how many baby animals there are and learn how rivers are an important part of our ecosystem. The cut paper illustrations add even more depth to the story. Each page is host to a hidden creature that is fun for the reader to try and find. Each page contains a map of the United States with the patricular river outlined. After tge story, there are a number of facts about the rivers and animas for futther investigation and extension activities.
— Library Media Connection (March/April 2014)
Over 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.
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.
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.
— Good Reads with Ronna – Ronna Mandel (Sept. 13, 2013)
Over in a River, Flowing out to Sea is a fun sing-song book by Marianne Berkes, with illustrations by Jill Dubin all about the creatures that live in and around a river – specifically, the mamas and babies.
I love that the book includes so many opportunities for teachable moments. There are simple concepts, like counting and what noises animals make. The illustrations include the US map and children can learn about geography, too.
The prose is set to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” so it’s a fun read, even the 24th time!
Of course, as with every book from Dawn Publications, this one comes with a plethora of extra activities making it especially ideal for teachers and homeschoolers. At the end of the book, there lots of resources, including more information about the animals and rivers in the book.
Online you’ll find even tons of activities—check them all out!
— Juggling Act Mama – Angela Paris (Sept. 2013)
I may have mentioned I grew up along two rivers that included the Ohio (I type sarcastically). There are lots of things that I miss about being so close to a river like that although flooding is not one of them! I like to be able to share my experiences with Brooke since we are now living in the middle of Texas and Dawn Publications’ Fall line-up includes one that focuses on North American watersheds to the tune of ‘Over in the Meadow’. Did you know that the United States alone has over 250,000 rivers? Wow! This book only focuses on the Top 10 although my Ohio River is part of that major group (St. Johns, Columbia, St. Lawrence, Ohio, Hudson, Colorado, Rio Grande, Missouri, Sacramento and Mississippi Rivers). Each river features a ‘hidden’ animal, for example, Ohio has the lovely water snakes and the Rio Grande has fireflies. Learn about the animals and the songs they make along the waters of the river. As always, Dawn Publishing put some great educational material at the end including sheet music for the book, maps and information about the watershed community ecosystem. Wonderful touch!
— Mama’s Bacon – Jeanna Bellville (September 2013)
Marianne Berkes has topped herself with her best book yet! Over in a River is a beautiful and brilliant book about the major rivers of the United States and the animals that make these rivers their habitat. As with the other books in her “Over” series, young readers will absorb the information without even realizing they are learning. Jill Dubin (Over in Australia, Over in the Arctic, Over in the Forest,) has created stunning paper collage illustrations. Each illustration includes a map that identifies the location of the river mentioned in the verse, the animals in their river habitat and a hidden animal that children will delight in spotting. Berkes concludes the book with extensive research about the rivers and animals, along with additional resources and tips from both the author and the illustrator. I was provided a paperback copy from the publisher to review, but once I saw how wonderful the book is, I bought a copy in hardback for my school library. Recommended for ages 3- 8.
— Judy Houser, Librarian, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Melbourne, FL. (September 25, 2013)
Over in a River by Marianne Berkes is a delightful book full of rhymes, counting, and learning about baby animals that you might not know a lot about like baby salmon, muskrats, river otters and more. The words are to the tune of “Over in the Meadow,” so you can sing or read. They even have the song notes and words printed out in the back, so you can play it with an instrument and sing when you are doing reading. So much fun!
— Your World Natural Blogspot – Cara Nitz (August 15, 2013)
When my youngest son was about 6, he wanted to know where the little stream that runs near our house started. And where did it go? And did otters live in it somewhere? So we pulled on our boots and hiked upstream, following the ever-narrowing trickle across rocky places and through marshy places until we found the spring where the stream was born.
Then we got in a car and followed it down our hill, where it joined another stream, and further, where it joined a creek, and further yet, to where it joined the Susquehanna River.We never found any otters – but I hear that there are some in the river.
So I was excited to see Marianne Berkes’ newest book that features rivers – and the awesome cut-paper artwork of Jill Dubin. This is a counting book, and you can sing along with the text… but there’s a lot more to it. Each page introduces an important river ecosystem and the animals that live there. You’ll meet herons and salmon, manatees and – yes! – otters. You’ll learn a little geography as you go along, plus there’s some hidden animals in the pages. And, for those kids who love to explore nature through art, Dubin gives some tips on how to create your own cut-paper art.
— YArchimedes Notebook – Sue Heavenrich (August 30, 2013)
Have you ever seen a real, live manatee? Do you even know what it is? Over in the St. John River of Florida “Where the warm waters run Lived a mother manatee And her little calf one.” Manatees are marine mammals which live in the ocean but paddle into warmer rivers when the ocean temperature drops below 65 degrees. Other kinds of animals live in, on, above, or around the great rivers of North America, like blue herons in the Hudson, salmon in the Columbia, dragonflies in the Rio Grande, and mallards in the St. Lawrence. Author Marianne Berkes discusses ten different types of such animals following the same pattern of the children’s folk song “Over in a Meadow” that she used in her five previous books in this series, Over in Australia, Over in the Forest, Over in the Jungle, Over in the Ocean, and Over in the Arctic, the first four of which have been previously reviewed here. Do you know where otters live, what their babies are called, and what they like to do?
Not only is the book educational but it also holds children’s attention well with its interactive features. In addition to illustrator Jill Dubin’s colorful cut-paper pictures enhanced with colored pencils and pastels which show the animals in their natural habitats near or on the river, each page names the animal with a map of where it lives, identifies the name of the animal’s babies, and tells what the animals do. There is the added benefit of reinforcing counting from one to ten. And each picture contains a hidden animal for the child to find. Furthermore, the back pages contain more information about the rivers and the animals, along with tips from both the author and the illustrator. Under “Fact or Fiction?” Berkes writes, “The animals in this story behave as they have been portrayed”muskrats squeal, manatees paddle, and dragonflies whirl. That’s a fact! But do they have the number of babies as in this rhyme? No, that is fiction!” Science, math, reading, and geography all in one fun book -what more could one ask for?
— Home School Book Review – Wayne S. Walker (August 10, 2013)
Children will have so much fun with the rhymes, the song, counting animal babies and finding hidden critters that they may not even realize they are learning fascinating facts about rivers and the animals that call them home. Educational information about rivers and river animals plus a host of discussion questions and extension activities makes this book a great tool for educators and a fun read for parents and children.”
— Leah Miller, Clean Water Program Director, Izaak Walton League of America (June 2013)
Through a rhyming tale with spectacular illustrations, Over in a River proves that rivers do matter, not just for people, but also for the varied and charming critters that paddle, whirl and waddle in their waters. A perfect book to help launch a kid into a lifetime of learning about creeks that flow close to home and eventually join with the vital rivers of our continent.
— Elizabeth Soderstrom, PhD, Senior Director of Conservation, American Rivers (June 2013)