Monday, September 7, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Marsh Morning by Marianne Berkes illustrated by Robert Noreika

From the morning's first light to setting sun, birds in the marsh create a symphony of sound. Each rhyme introduces a species of bird (or marsh animal) and a musical or theatrical term. I'm not generally a fan of rhyming picturebooks; I find them difficult to use as read-alouds and I think rhyming is often unnecessary. I think this nonfiction narrative would have been better as straight prose; I found the rhymes flat and pedestrian. "As dawn appears, a heron stands/Motionless offshore./He spears a fish and gulps it down/And waits to get some more." But the imagery of birds as an orchestra is interesting and there are several nice turns of phrase "A sparrow trills an aria." A glossary of musical terms and a list of all the birds mentioned is included in the back, as well as a brief bibliography of bird books.

The illustrations are lovely, swirling watercolors perfectly capturing the misty early morning in the marsh and the various birds throughout the day.

Verdict: I haven't found any other books specifically on marsh birds for young children, so this is a good filler for that gap. I think the anti-rhyming is just me, and this book will fit perfectly well in most collections.

ISBN: 978-0761325680; Published January 2003 by Millbrook Press; Review copy provided by author

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