May 19, 2017

OVER in the WETLANDS: A Hurricane on the Bayou Story

I became a fan of the work of Caroline Starr Rose after reading her verse-novel, May B.  soon after its release in 2012. Since then I've become a fan of all of her books. I'm also an admirer of her leadership among educators and creators, and of her kind, thoughtful approach to other writers and to life in general. I'm convinced I'll have the pleasure of meeting her in person someday, and I look forward to telling her all this in real life.
Meanwhile, it's a pleasure to feature one of her more recent books here.

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

In  OVER IN THE WETLANDS: A Hurricane-on-the-BayouRose applied her extensive writing talent and craft to a picture book that has all the hallmarks of a future classic. It is listed as an informational book for ages 3-8, but it's rhymed verse will appeal far beyond the very young and can serve as mentor text for writers of any age. 
Its lyrical, rhythmic narration is perfectly enhanced by the illustrations of Rob Dunlavey. His website is worth a visit, offering a glimpse of his multi-faceted techniques and his mastery of nature illustration. You can view several spreads of his fluid, dense, and moody art from this book, depicting bayou scenes in various weather conditions and moods, here. 
I've lived all my life in the part of the country often referred to as "tornado alley", but have no first-hand experiences with hurricanes. Nevertheless, I found the ebb and flow of each page turn provided immersive and emotional insights into the often-described process of hurricane development, destruction, "eye", resumption, and eventual resolution.

"Gentle as a whisper too soft to hear,
a faint breeze hints that a storm draws near."
"Wind-whipped waves
smash up debris. 
Turtles swim for safer seas."
hours endless.
storm's relentless."

The author's note in the back matter includes a map of Gulf wetlands, a simple introduction to issues surrounding the value and disappearance of wetlands, and suggested websites for exploring and finding answers to questions. Details about the animals in the narrative text are described in the "More about" page, providing immediate answers for younger readers and for the adults who will read this book to them- again and again. 

This book is a perfect example of why I proclaim the POWER of picture books for readers of any/many ages. In one of my earliest posts I summarized that power as "3 C's": 

That post was written five years ago. At that time the ubiquitous digital media was well established, but it was still several years before the current climate in which algorithms filter what we find on searches and what we see and read in social media. A picture book, especially one like this, invites and nearly demands that we PAUSE, peruse, and become mindful of the content. That includes its purpose, its validity, and its effect on our emotional and intellectual lives. It doesn't need to be "bookmarked", it refuses to be scanned or skimmed, and it expects us to return to it multiple times. Joyfully. Mindfully.

In this case, I know I will.

Please do.


  1. Sandy, this is so incredibly kind! Thank you. I'm truly honored. I love this idea of picture books being complete, compact, and compelling. You're exactly right.

  2. Caroline, Sorry to take so long to reply! I love this book, for the reasons noted and because it has been of favorite among the many books I send as gifts to young family members. Thanks for stopping by and for creating such wonderful ditties to young lives.

  3. Editing my typo/auto-corrected reply to Caroline above:
    Caroline's words are not wonderful "ditties" but are BEAUTIES!
    Dang that auto-correct!


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