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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Over in the Wetlands: A Hurrricane-on-the Bayou Story, written by Caroline Starr Rose and illustrated by Rob Dunleavy. Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House. 2015. $20.99 ages 5 and up

"Along the shore
the waves increase.
Pelicans scoop herring
for the littlest beaks.

Swirling the shallows,
the spoonbills stalk,
the cypress salted
with an egret flock."

You can tell from these opening lines that you are about to be amazed at the poetic language Caroline Starr Rose uses to help us learn about the Louisiana bayou. As resilient as the animals who inhabit these wetlands are, the place they call home is equally strong and capable of survival.

The first poems introduce us to the wetlands and its inhabitants when all is peaceful and pleasant. She creates beautiful verbal images that are then fully realized in the impressive artwork Rob Dunleavy creates in watercolor, ink, pencil, paint, collage and Adobe Photoshop.

A mother alligator senses that trouble is brewing, and acts accordingly:

"Mama Gator feels the coming storm,
wants her babies snug and warm.
She lumbers slowly toward her den
and nestles her gatorlings deep within."

As the storm moves in, the animals seek shelter and the skies darken quickly. The darkness deepens, the water whips, debris is scattered, and many animals cower in an attempt to escape the hurricane's wrath.

hours endless.
storm's relentless."

The double page spreads are a stormy black, leaving the audience aware of the terror felt. Then, the clouds move out, the storm lessens and the bayou denizens return to their activities. Even the tiny and luminescent dragonfly has survived.

"Over in the wetlands
in the dead of night,
Dragonfly flits through the starry light.
The swampland stretches all around,

Back matter includes an author's note explaining the importance of these coastal waters, a list of websites and further information concerning the animals mentioned. This book would work brilliantly when paired with books about Hurricane Katrina, or the impact of any such weather system.

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