Friday, April 11, 2014

Celebrating Swamps

Two fun books arrived in my mailbox recently - both about swamps and gators. And food chains.
Theme: animals, nonfiction

Swamp Chomp
by Lola M. Schaefer; illus by Paul Meisel
32 pages; ages 4-8
Holiday House, 2014

Opening: "In the swamp... water ripples. Mosquitoes flit. Sit. Dragonflies swoop. Dip..." Animals flit, glide, and swim through the swamp in search of their next meal. But look out - because the alligator is always ready to chomp. The language in this book offers a full-course meal of active verbs that will have children gulping, chomping, and swallowing their next meal at the dining room table.

The Swamp Where Gator Hides
by Marianne Berkes; illus by Roberta Baird
32 pages; ages 3 - 8
Dawn Publications, 2014

Opening: "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.

Make a Snake out of the letter S. This is a fun way to explore the alphabet - and might lead to some discussion about what other animals start with "S".

Make a paper plate tortoise - you can find instructions here.

 Drop by STEM Friday to see what other science books and resources bloggers are sharing. Today's review is also part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.


  1. Love your choices and your descriptions of both books. You make them sound active and alive. Both children and adults will enjoy these two books, They are great companion books. It really is animal and reptile day today. We're all longing for spring.

  2. Neat pairing! Look forward to reading both of these.

  3. This book looks interesting. I'm curious about one point as a writer as I have a crocodile waiting for prey in a story. I'll have to read this one to my son and to study. :)

  4. You recommendations come at just the right time. My first-grader has been learning about swamps in school and telling me lots about them. Great picks!

  5. Haha, I found myself chomping as I read this post, it sounds like a super read-aloud!

  6. Something to do with all those "lone" socks. Chomp!

  7. Sue, I was wondering what could be fascinating with swamps, but with the beautifully illustrated books you have chosen and as Pat said, the fun review posted here... I loved it. Hope they head out our way soon.

  8. These both look great! Thanks!