Archive for Wildlife

About Birds: A Guide for Children

Written by Cathryn Sill
Illustrated by John Sill

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This beautiful little book packs a lot into a very few words and pictures. It allows first graders and older to see common birds (cardinal, American robin) up close and to learn about birds in other parts of the world (common murre, magnificent hummingbird). It is a valuable introduction to the English/Spanish bilingual world. And it contains a wealth of information for those who want to know more. As a read aloud or for independent study, this volume of the “About” series provides a solid basis for comprehension of nature and conservation plus a boost to literacy skills.

It is presented as a picture book with a short sentence for each bird, translated into Spanish. e.g., “Some birds build nests on the ground. / Algunos párajos hacen sus nido en la tierra.” is followed by a realistic painting of an ovenbird and its nest. The afterword has longer explanations of each picture, a glossary, and bibliography with books and websites.

Detailed and realistic illustrations make the reader feel like they have actually seen the birds. As birds move fast and are shy of humans, it helps children to recognize our feathered friends.

  • About BirdsTitle: About Birds: A Guide for Children
  • Author: Cathryn Sill
  • Illustrator: John Sill
  • Publisher: Peachtree  Publishers, 2014
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, unpaged
  • Genre: Nonfiction, nature, bilingual
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-783-0

The Swamp Where Gator Hides

Written by Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Roberta Baird

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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:

  • Swamp where the gator hidesTitle: The Swamp Where Gator Hides
  • Author: Marianne Berkes
  • Illustrator: Roberta Baird
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, March 2014
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-470-0
  • Genre: Picture Book / Wildlife