This exploration of the creatures of the Florida Everglades is delivered in a familiar, cumulative House-that-Jack-Built style.
The swamp scene begins with a simple bit of algae and expands bit by bit as the clever verse grows to include a bobcat, a vole, an egret up high in a nest, a grazing deer, a rumbling bullfrog and a “snake / who slithers around / past the turtle / taking a snooze / ignoring the duck / who paddles in ooze / under the algae / that carpets the swamp / where gator hides.” Gator finally reveals himself as he makes a grab for a sunfish, who scoots away just in time. Poor Gator. “Who will he have for lunch today?” . . . Children will enjoy spotting the alligator hiding in each page spread and learning more about the swamp and its inhabitants through the notes that follow the story.
A pleasing introduction to the swamp appropriate for individual exploration or sharing with a group or class.
— Kirkus Reviews – Vicky Smith (January 9, 2014)
In several picture books, Berkes has adapted the familiar counting rhyme, “Over in the Meadow,” into texts that introduce animals in a particular place (Australia) or habitat (forest, garden, river). Here, the structure and rhythm of the nursery rhyme, “The House That Jack Built,” form the basis of a narrative set in the Florida Everglades. As the cumulative rhyme proceeds, a new animal appears on each page: the duck, the turtle, the snake, the bullfrog, the deer, the egret, the vole, the bobcat, and the sunfish. Meanwhile, “Gator hides” in every double-page scene, giving observant kids a chance to spot him. The story climaxes when he emerges, and the test asks, “. . . when Gator comes out / to catch his prey. / WHO WILL HE HAVE FOR LUNCH TODAY?” The appended author page will be useful to parents and teachers, while on the illustrator page, Baird shows how she creates her digital illustrations. The drama created in both the rhythmic text and atmospheric illustrations makes this a good classroom read-aloud choice.
–ALA Booklist – Carolyn Phelan (March 26, 2014)
In the Florida Everglades, an alligator lurks in the swamp beneath a thick layer of algae. He’s hungry and looking for his next meal. Who will it be? The duck that paddles in ooze? The turtle taking a snooze? Written as a cumulative rhyming story, in the same vein as “The House that Jack Built,” Berkes’ expressive language brings the still swamp to life: This is the egret / nesting up high / who watches the deer / grazing nearby / the bullfrog with / a rumbling sound / eyeing the snake who slithers around.
On every page, kids can search for half-submerged Gator, camouflaged in layered shades of green. As the poem builds, you can almost hear first graders shouting their guesses during a classroom read-aloud. The story concludes when Gator finally surfaces from the water. Out in the open and with a great big SNAP, he lurches at a hapless sunfish (cleverly designed so that the fish’s fate depends on the reader’s interpretation).
This book introduces young readers to swamp ecosystems and the critters that inhabit them, the role of camouflage, and predator-prey relationships. Back pages offer teachers and parents additional information on each animal featured, which can be used to foster discussion and/or lesson plans. “Tips from the Author” includes curriculum-related literary activities on rhyming, sequencing, and poetry, while “Tips from the Illustrator” provides a peek at Baird’s process into creating beautiful digital illustrations. More classroom resources can be found on the publishers website: dawnpub.com.
–Grade Reading – Sue Poduska (January 2014)
What a fun book! The cumulative rhyming text brings smiles and anticipation with each page turn. Kids will search for the gator—who is hiding while he waits for lunch to come near – and in the process will discover numerous other swamp critters. The detailed illustrations capture the beauty and drama of a Florida Everglades swamp. The Swamp Where Gator Hides is a great literature connection for the Florida Project Learning Tree curriculum.
— Nancy Peterson, State Coordinator, Florida Project Learning Tree (August 2013)
Have you ever been in a swamp? What kind of wildlife lives in swamps? A swamp is a unique kind of half-land, half-water wetland habitat. The swamp in The Swamp Where Gator Hides is the Florida Everglades, where the warm, wet, subtropical climate provides ideal conditions for not only alligators, but also dabbling ducks, red bellied turtles, cottonmouth snakes, bullfrogs, white deer, great egrets, voles, bobcats, and sunfish. Which one will the camouflaged gator that hides under the carpet of algae in the swamp get to eat—if any?
This rhyming text by Marianne Berkes, which follows the cumulative pattern of “The House that Jack Built,” and the colorful, convincing illustrations by Roberta Baird introduce young readers to the ecological environment of the swamp. A section at the end has a page of further explanation about the world of the swamp in general and a couple of pages with more information on the various animals mentioned in the book, along with tips for fun learning activities from both the author and the illustrator. Kids will love searching for the hidden alligator in each double-page drawing as they learn about predator-prey relationships.
— Homeschool Book Review – Wayne Walker (March 3, 2014)
The Swamp Where Gator Hides takes kids on a little journey with a gator. It takes place in the Florida Everglades, giving children an idea of the types of life they may find in the swamp. Gator is hungry, and while the reader wonders what he will make his meal, the story finishes without him actually eating anything. This book provides a look at nature and the habits of gators. There isn’t anything in it that vegetarian families should object to, despite the gator’s prey being discussed. It’s a nice book that has been beautifully illustrated and would make a good addition to any child’s book collection.
In addition to the story about gator, this book ends with a page dedicated to explaining more about what a swamp is. There is also a section that offers information on some of the various animals you would find in the swamp, including turtles, snakes, ducks, bullfrogs, and more. They finish the book with tips from the author, to help children get more out of the information, and tips from the illustrator, shedding light on how the illustrations are done.
— Vegbooks (April, 2014)
The Swamp: Where Gator Hides is a cumulative, rhyming story that takes young readers through a typical swamp where creatures swim, slither and snooze. Among the many animals they meet along the way are a bobcat, an egret, a bullfrog, a snake, a duck, a sunfish and a gator. The big question is – who will the gator have for lunch?
In the back of the book there’s a page entitled, “A Swampy World,” where author Marianne Berkes describes the swamp environment from the water and plants to the animals and preservation of swamps. There are two pages of wonderful descriptions about each of the animal species in the book, complete with where in the world these creatures can be found, what they eat and more.
Why You Should Read This Book
The Swamp: Where Gator Hides is a terrific introduction to swamps for the youngest readers. The two-page spreads of digital illustrations by artist Roberta Baird, with their dominant swamp green backgrounds, really make the animals pop on every page. They’re very artistic but also realistic, so kids can get an idea of what these animals and their surrounding habitats really look like. In addition to the informative pages about swamps the author includes in the back of the book, she also offers some helpful tips on how to teach using the story, including fun and educational activities as well as more book and web resources for learning. I love that the illustrator includes a page of tips as well. Here she describes in detail how she creates digital illustrations – sketching, scanning and using Photoshop. It is rare that illustrators give that much detail in a book about how their pictures were made!
— Smart Books for Smart Kids – Debbie Glade (March 31, 2014)
Marianne Berkes uses the rhythm of the Mother Goose tale “This is the House That Jack Built” to explore the world of an American alligator in The Swamp Where Gator Hides. With each page, we are introduced to an animal that shares the swamp habitat with the gator, such as frogs and turtles to egrets and ducks. Then the gator must decide which animal will be his lunch, and he is no longer hidden. With fun digital illustrations from Roberta Baird, The Swamp Where Gator Hides is a delightful look at a habitat and the animals that live in it.
— Exploring Portlands Natural Areas – Michael Barton (March 26, 2014)
“This is the algae that carpets the swamp where Gator hides.
This is the duck who paddles in ooze under the algae that carpets the swamp….” This is the book that shows you the food chain made up of the animals in and around the swam where Gator hides. Why is Gator hiding? Because he’s camouflaged, lying in wait for prey – and when his dinner shows up he’ll attack!
What I like about both books: What a FUN way to learn about food chains. In Swamp Chomp it’s the active language that breathes life into the predator/prey relationship. The Swamp where Gator Hides builds cumulatively like “the house that Jack built” – until the surprise at the end. Both books have end-notes to help parents (and older siblings) answer the endless stream of questions that always comes when reading about alligators.
Beyond the books: Act out the verbs in Swamp Chomp. Pull a sock over your hand and turn it into an alligator – then have fun gulping and munching your way through a swampy food chain.
— Sally’s bookshelf – Sue Heavenrich (April 11, 2014)
This rhyming text of this instant children’s classic, The Swamp Where Gator Hides is a fun tale about a gator who hides, still as a log. Only gators watchful eyes able to be seen in the swamp. Taking place in the Florida Everglades, this subtropical climate provides ideal conditions for alligators, dabbling ducks, red bellied turtles, cottonmouth snakes, bullfrogs, white deer, great egrets, bobcats, sunfish and more.
An educational book that teaches about the swamp, each creature and the dynamics of the predator and the prey. Highly recommended!!!
— An Angels Kiss (March 25, 2014)
Habitats are filled with hundreds of creatures. From the algae to the gators, all of them have complex and intricate relationships with each other. This title explores these interconnections among species and habitats marvelously. The gator hides under the algae while the other animals are going about their business in the swamp. Turtle, snake, frog, deer, egret, vole, and bobcat are all depicted doing their activities around the water when the gator jumps out.
Who will be his lunch today? The text and pictures capture a delightful rhyming story for younger readers about a thrilling moment in the swamp. This title is great for reading in the classroom as it invites young readers to join in making the sounds.
— ALA Reading Online Today – Rani Iyer (March, 2014)
With all the attention on the TV to Gator Boys and Swamp Men—this is a twist from the swamp’s view! As in The Mouse and the Meadow—also great messages re: all the predators out there all looking for food, and the life needs to be continuously aware of what is around them for dinner as well as they could be dinner. I don’t think this has as much of a cute-factor as The Mouse and the Meadow, but for those who live in swamp areas or for those who visit swamp areas—it carries great lessons. Also, for those not in a swamp&mash;it gives young readers an idea of some of the animals that can be found there.
— The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (September 2013)
Here’s a fun tale that introduces young readers to concepts of camouflage and predator-prey interactions. And kids will love searching for the hidden alligator in the beautiful illustrations.
— Annie Oxarart, Board Member, League of Environmental Educators in Florida (August 2013)
Welcome back to my mini sneak preview session of Dawn Publications Spring 2014 book releases! We’re continuing our theme of special ecosystems today with a children’s book by Marianne Berkes titled The Swamp Where Gator Hides. In this wonderfully and colorfully illustrated book, we meet many of the creatures living in the Florida Everglades. Aside from the main focus of the story, which is obviously the alligator, children will also be introduced to egrets, voles, bobcats, white-tailed deer, and many other interesting characters.
I have to admit, even as an adult I still enjoy poetry and children’s stories that rhyme. (What can I say? I like the way it flows.) That is one thing I liked about The Swamp Where Gator Hides: the cumulative rhyme. For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, the author explains that a cumulative rhyme “repeats each part of a story from beginning to end.” Besides just being fun, in my opinion, I think it will help the story appeal to younger children (this book is also suggested for 4-10 year old children) and help them remember what they’re reading and learning as well.
I loved the illustrations in the book as well. On each page (well, until you get to the end, but you’ll just have to check it out for yourself to see what I’m talking about 😉 ) you can find just the gator’s eyes peering above the surface of the algae covered swamp water. You could turn it into a fun little search and find game for younger children.
Besides the fact that most children enjoy learning about animals, I think the suspense will also appeal to them as well. Throughout the book the gator is hiding as we meet the different animals and learn about their activities, such as the snoozing turtle and the bobcat who stalks the vole who peeks out of his hole. The story culminates with finding out which of the unfortunate creatures is going to be gator’s lunch!
As usual, there are resources for parents and teachers at the end of the book. The author shares some of her activity ideas, such as having children make their own gator. You can also find more on Dawn Pub’s website as well under “Activities”. There is also some more information about the featured animals at the end of the book as well.
— Getting Green with Baby – Alicia Owen (Dec. 4, 2013)
Under the algae that carpets the swamp, near the duck who paddles in ooze, close to the turtle who takes a snooze . . . hides a gator! Still as a log, only his watchful eyes can be seen. But when gator moves, he really moves! What happens to the duck, the turtle, the egret, the deer, and the many other critters of the swamp when gator makes his move?
–Susan Heim on Parenting Blog, Chicken Soup for the Soul Editor (Feb. 19, 2014)
The Swamp Where Gator Hides by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Roberta Baird is another cute book that will teach kids a thing or two! In this picture book, children discover that an algae-covered swamp that looks quiet actually has lots going on. Namely, an alligator is living below the surface just waiting to get his next meal!
This book is actually good for preschool and elementary age kids. The text has repeating verses which make it fun to read, and little ones know what to expect except for the next line. In addition, they will have fun trying to find the alligator’s prying eyes. Older children will appreciate this book because it teaches them about real life in a swamp and predatory relationships.
As a parent, I especially enjoyed the last few pages where the author gives the reader additional information about the swamp and its inhabitants. They also give some ideas for fun activities as well as descriptions for how the digital illustrations were created.
–Booking Mama – Julie Peterson (March 3, 2014)
The Swamp Where Gator Hides – loved this one. . . applicable to us in southern Illinois except for the gator! Like how they talked about all the critters who “depend” on swamp, not just ones who live in it. Pictures are great and my 6 year old especially liked trying to find the gator in each picture. . . and then guessing who he was going to eat in the end. And as a non-formal educator, I like the extra information in the back (animal information as well as the program ideas.
–Linda Hauser, Shawnee National Forest (Feb. 20, 2014)
The Swamp Where Gator Hides is written by Marianne Berkes for children ages 3-8. It is 32 pages long. This rhyming text with repeating versus is full of animals for children to enjoy. I think this book would be great as part of a science curriculum for a young child. The book has lots of animals for children to identify and learn about. At the end of the book there is a description of each species.
Children learn about the unique habitat of swamps, the importance of camouflage, and predictor-prey relationships. At the end of the book there is a page about swamps and how they can exist in any climate. The history of swamps is explained and how important they are to the environment.
–Cheshire Cat Looking Glass (March 3, 2014)
The Swamp Where Gator Hides by Marianne Berkes is a fun, suspenseful book that your children will love! Under the algae that carpets the swamp, near the duck who paddles in ooze, close to the turtle who takes a snooze . . . hides a gator! Still as a log, only his watchful eyes can be seen. But when gator moves, he really moves! What happens to the duck, the turtle, the egret, the deer, and the many other critters of the swamp when gator makes his move?
–Your World Natural Blogspot – Cara Nitz (March 8, 2014)