Eye-popping artwork is the star of the show in Berkes’s lively, oceanic counting book, based on the classic children’s song Over in the Meadow. In Berkes’s version, creatures from the coral reef replace terrestrial fauna. She introduces a different animal in each full-bleed spread, but instead of bluebirds and muskrats, she highlights octopuses, pufferfish, and seahorses. Canyon uses polymer clay to create arresting visuals. In one spread, a sea anemone, its hot pink base crowned with rosy-tipped, lime-green tendrils, bursts from the page while mother clownfish darts after a trio of young ones. Their textured scales and vivid patterns stand out against a swirling blue background of coiled clay and small, bubble-like spheres. Young children will enjoy counting the offspring.
— Kirkus Reviews (September, 2004)
Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef is a fresh twist on an old song. During story time at her library, Berkes remembers singing “Over in the Meadow” with her young patrons. At the time a save-the-ocean poster graced the library walls and another seed was planted. Berkes used the rhythm and rhyming pattern of the song, and situated her story in a new habitat. Three other Over in the… books have been published, focusing on the rainforest, the Arctic and Australia, each carefully researched and vetted by expert naturalists. The newest one, Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek!, will be published in 2012.
–California Reading Association – Patricia Newman (November 17, 2011)
Fresh lyrics using sea life are applied to the children’s tune “Over in the Meadow” on these stunningly illustrated pages. From one octopus to ten seahorses the creatures “squirt,” “dart,” and “flutter” around their parents. The art in the book is made with polymer clay. Tips for using the book with children, information about the marine animals, and music are included.
–Horn Book Review (Spring, 2005)
Author, Marianne Berkes, engages children’s math, music, science and listening skills in this beautifully illustrated rhyming book. As a storyteller, I found this book a useful tool to motivate my preschoolers in counting – holding up fingers and acting out what the creatures in the sea do – flutter, graze, skitter, grunt, etc.. “What does the Clownfish do?” I’d ask. Putting their hands together in a praying mode, the children act out the fish darting here and there. And there are finger plays that go with each sea creature mentioned.
Older children will particularly enjoy the tips from both the author and the artist (Jeannette Canyon) at the back of the book. Included, is additional factual information about the ten sea creatures mentioned in the story.
— The Kaboose Network (September 2004)
Discover creatures that live in a coral reef in this vibrant counting book. Kids can clap along to the memorable rhyme (set to the traditional tune “Over in the Meadow”) and count their way through an ocean filled with pufferfish that puff, dolphins that jump, and seahorses that flutter. The eye-popping illustrations, created with polymer clay, have a textured appearance and jump off the page in bursts of color. The back of the book includes additional information on the marine animals and ideas for extended activities.
— Your Big Backyard (Nat. Wildlife Fed.) (August 2011)
This adaptation of the whimsical classic song “Over in the Meadow” adds both a counting and musical element to the coral reef habitat. This coral reef is teeming with pufferfish that “puff,” gruntfish that “grunt” and seahorses that “flutter.” The babies follow the behavior of their mothers – except in the true to life twist at the end. It is a father seahorse that leads his babies. There?s also plenty of age-appropriate background information about each of the animals. But what makes this book especially noteworthy are the dramatic illustrations that portray the amazing colors and shapes of a coral reef. Illustrator Jeanette Canyon used common kitchen equipment – including a pasta machine, food processor and cake decorating tools – to roll, slice and dice the marine habitat. The resulting photographs are overflowing with color and texture.
— Kids Vermont (2004)
It takes remarkable art to portray the amazing colors and shapes of a coral reef – and this new children?s book accomplishes this with a unique art media. Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef uses polymer clay to bring picture books for children to a compelling new dimension. Illustrations are practically tactile, and are actually photographs of reliefs shaped and sculpted from clay. Author Marianne Berkes adapts the whimsical classic song of Over in the Meadow to bring both a counting element and a musical element to the coral reef habitat. The coral reef is teeming with pufferfish that “puff,” gruntfish that “grunt,” and seahorses that “flutter.” Your child will be absorbed by the detailed and colorful pictures and delighted by the sweet story.
— Ventura County Parent (September, 2004)
Angelfish graze, sea horses flutter, and puffer fish puff in this counting book that?s an introduction to a coral reef. The book?s colorful art is constructed entirely from clay. Dive on in!
— Learning Magazine (October, 2004)
This is a cute rhyming story about life around a coral reef. It’s also a counting book, a music book, and a science book. On top of all that, it has absolutely amazing illustrations that are formed completely out of colored clays. This is a very impressive project and also a very effective one. We rated it five hearts.
— Heartland Reviews (Oct.-Dec. 2004)
Remarkable clay compositions recreate the undersea world in the board book Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes, illus. by Jeanette Canyon, a riff on the classic “Over in the Meadow.” Youngsters can almost touch the smooth scales of a fish or the rough spikes of a coral reef as they count up from a fuchsia “mother octopus and her octopus one” to 10 lime-green seahorses with their father.
— Publishers Weekly (March 27, 2006)
The three Board Books (Sunshine On My Shoulders, Over in the Ocean In a Coral Reef & A Swim Through the Sea) are wonderful and a great addition to the genre. The colorful illustrations seem even more bright and bold than in the full sized books and create an excitement that will make readers want to return to them again and again. I have wanted to include a Board Book category in the Read In for several years, but have not yet done so because the quality varied so widely and I really couldn’t come up with enough titles of truly excellent books published in one year. Maybe this will be the year! I look forward to more Board Books from Dawn.
— Learning Explorations – Barbara Geiger (June, 2006)
Now in board book format, sea creatures and their babies, formed from colorful polymer clay, are featured cavorting in and around a coral reef. Children will have fun counting the ten different types of marine life. End pages give information on the various animals portrayed.
— The Children’s Hour – www.tchliteracy.com (November, 2006)
Author Marianne Berkes has taken the old counting song “Over in the Meadow” and transformed it by setting it in a coral reef and populating it with the creatures who live there. The art in the book is quite compelling; the sea creatures and backgrounds are crafted completely from bright polymer clay. The result is a vivid-looking book that is practically a tactile experience and will engage the attention of even the youngest children.
— OC Family Magazine (April, 2005)
Vivid, imaginative, mulitcolored illustrations transform Marianne Berkes? picture book Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef into a seaworthy sensation. Readers explore the depths of the ocean as they rhythmically count a myriad of interesting sea creatures traveling the depths of the ocean with their parents.
— Arizona Parenting (April, 2005)
If you love marine life, music, or math, then this is the book for you! Marianne Berkes’s whimsical treatment of the classic song “Over in the Meadow” coupled with Jeanette Canyon?s engaging illustrations makes for an irresistible counting book. Add in just enough background information on the marine life portrayed, and you have a picture book that stands up to repeated readings. Don’t miss this wonderful collaboration!
–Suzanne Barchers, Ed.D., Editor in Chief and V.P., LeapFrog SchoolHouse (March, 2004)
Five Stars – Highest rating
Polymer clay has given children’s book artists (the beauty of this artwork goes beyond the term “illustrator”) a new medium to help tell stories. Nowhere is this medium used to greater effect than Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon. Ms. Canyon’s colors are so vibrant and brilliant, I was astonished to read that her medium was entirely polymer clay. Her pieces look like glass.
This book is based on the classic song “Over in the Meadow.” The tune is provided for you with all of the words at the end, so you can play it on piano, recorder, violin or whatever instrument you like. There is a lot of information at the end about the coral reef animals, and about the book. There are even fingerplay instructions for extended fun. The artist has a terrific section about how she makes her relief-work art. There are some fascinating tips like how she gave the clownfish scales by pressing a cherry tomato mesh bag on the fish, and how she created sand by mixing ground black pepper with the clay. There is also a note about other books by Dawn Publications.
“Over in the Meadow” is an old counting song that describes an mother animal one baby (with each animal the number of babies grows progressively larger). The mother tells the baby to do something. In the traditional song, the animals are familiar and the actions pretty mundane. In this story, the animals are all coral reef creatures and the action gets pretty wild! Octopi squirt, parrotfish grind, stingray stir, pufferfish puff, of course, and needlefish skitter. Since they all live in a coral reef, instead of describing their habitat, as the old song does, the animals are sometimes described in great detail. The needlefish are very streamlined and straight. Where warranted, the habitat is described, for example, the clownfish are found in a sea anemone, and the parrotfish are found where the sea grasses grow.
The last page of the story is like an Eye Spy game. You are asked to find all the creatures in the vibrant reef, which teems with creatures. They are listed with small pictures next to their numbers, for easy identification. For example, after the number 10, there are ten tiny seahorses.
The artwork is not only biologically accurate, it is intensely beautiful. The cover features greeny brown seahorses against an aqua sea of swirls, and hot pink coral. A little seahorse peaks out of the father’s pouch. The number of each animal is found on the sides of the page, sculpted into the sand that borders the main illustration. Ms. Canyon says she rolls the clay into canes, with layers of different colors and then slices them, creating a kaleidescope effect. I have seen people make jewelry using this technique, but never anything so gorgeous as this book.
Some of my favorite animals include:
The hot pink octopi with zillions of suckers, each a little smaller than the one next to it.
The perfect clownfish with enough texture, color and depth to make Nemo jealous.
The silver and blue marbled dolphins who leap from swirling aqua sea to the dazzling yellow sun, made from spirals upon spirals and tiny beads.
This book is a delight for lovers of art, music, craft, animals, math or children’s books.
I usually have about 50 picture books out of the library at any given time and decide to buy very few, but this is definitely one.
–Epinions.com – jenscookie (April 2011)