Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia MarantzIn cumulative verse similar to that of The House that Jack Built, Berkes takes us into the swamp where Gator hides to meet the many creatures that live there. We begin with the algae that carpets the swamp, move on to the duck “who paddles in ooze,” and the turtle who takes a snooze, “…ignoring the duck…” They are joined in turn by the snake, the frog, the deer, the egret, the vole, the bobcat, and the sunfish “who scoots away/ when Gator comes out/ to catch his prey.” Who will he have for lunch? Gator, who has been lurking in each double-page illustration, emerges at last. Baird visualizes the swamp with naturalistic creatures always on the lookout for Gator. Close-up images are mainly shown in shades of green and yellow, colors that convey the oozy swamp and contrast with the egret’s pure white feathers and the water lily’s petals. The stillness of the swamp builds the reader’s sense of danger. More information on the swamp and its inhabitants, plus added tips from both author and illustrator are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 8.
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?" The realistic illustrations have a stiff and somewhat amateurish quality, but they are appealing nonetheless, featuring deep greens and browns with accents of blue and purple. 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. (author's & illustrator's notes, further resources) (Picture book. 3-8)
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