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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Who Needs a Swamp? Written and illustrated by Karen Patkau. Tundra, 2012. $19.99 ages 7 and up

"The river has done damage. It has washed soil from its own banks. But in the swamp, tree and plant roots cling on to waterlogged earth.
By slowing the river water, the swamp keeps more soil form wearing away."

Tundra has just published the first three books in a new series called the Ecosystem Series. This is the first one that I have read, and found it to be informative and accessible for young readers.

Karen Patkau provides 'just enough' clear information on each double page spread to keep her readers interested and moving forward. She fills her collages with intense color and abundance to show a coherent view of this ecosystem and its many inhabitants. We become aware of the wildlife in her vivid descriptions of the sounds and sights in the swamp and through her carefully constructed artwork.

The constantly changing page designs encourage her audience to search carefully through the text for clues to what is happening in the art, and the art is filled with details that have the child's eyes searching for each new and delightful discovery.

A map that plots wetland areas of the world is useful and an inset shows exactly where this particular swamp is found. Following the map, the author adds a short paragraph of information to further knowledge of the many wetlands inhabitants, such as:

Duckweed spreads by sending new leaves out from its sides. Its floating roots trap polluted sediment in water flowing into the swamp. Cleaner water trickles out."


"Swamp Rabbit
When chased, the swamp rabbit makes zigzag hops right into the water. Here it waits underwater, until it feels safe. Only its nose sticks up into the air."

Fascinating and fun learning, that's the best kind of nonfiction for young readers!

Don't miss the other two books in this brand new series, Who Needs a Jungle? and Who Needs An Iceberg?

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