Deep in the Swamp
Donna M. Bateman, author
Donna M. Bateman is a former Spanish and French teacher. Deep in the Swamp is her first picture book. Donna lives with her husband and two kids in Bridgeton, Missouri, not far from the swampy bottomlands of the Missouri River.
Read more about Donna.
Brian Lies, illustrator
Brian Lies has illustrated many children’s books, including Popcorn! by Elaine Landau, and his own Bats at the Beach (Houghton Mifflin). His award-winning work frequently appears in children’s magazines and in galleries around the country. Brian lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Read more about Brian.
- IRA/CBC Children's Choices
- SIBA Book Award
Using the the rhythm-and-rhyme scheme of the tune "Over in the Meadow," Bateman successfully introduces animals native to the Okefenokee Swamp, which straddles Georgia and Florida. Each of the first 10 double-page spreads presents a verse spotlighting a family of featured animals: river otters, turtles, flame birds, marsh rabbits, alligators, blue herons, damselflies, bullfrogs, rat sakes, and crayfish. The text frequently mentions native plants as well, in rhymes such as "Deep in the swamp, where the cattails grow straight. / Lived a mother bullfrog and her little froglets Eight…." The last five spreads provide paragraphs of information about the animals and plants mentioned in the main text, extending the usefulness of the book as an introduction to this distinctive ecosystem. Throughout the book, colorful acrylic paintings precisely delineate the flora and fauna of the Okefenokee. A sprightly read-aloud choice for science units on swamps. Phelan, Carolyn
Newcomer Bateman puts a swampy spin on a familiar riff in her ode to the Okefenokee. "Deep in the swamp, in a hollow cypress knee,/ Lived a mother flame bird and her little chicks Three./ 'Sweet-sweet!' trilled the mother. 'Sweet-sweet,' trilled the Three./ So they trilled loud and long in their hollow cypress knee." The predictable rhythm and realistic spreads of swamp mamas and their babies (wearing just a hint of a smile) create a soothing tone. The adapted counting rhyme highlights the flora and fauna of the cypress swamp found in southern Georgia and northern Florida. Readers come eye to eye with alligators, nocturnal marsh rabbits and blue herons in flight. Damselflies emerge from their nut-brown cocoons in a bright, blue-hued scene that offers a skyward view of the cypress canopy. Lies's (Bats at the Beach) use of reflected light creates a dramatic contrast with the shadowy swamp undergrowth. In one spread, dark clumps of cypress along a narrow waterway cast murky, olive-green reflections that play up a cloud-white sky and gold-flecked flame birds. The final third of the book contains brief descriptions and handsome spot illustrations of the animals and plants featured, illuminating terms such as neverwet plants and cypress knees ("All cypresses have... heavy roots that reach out to keep them standing firmly in the water. Knees often grow up from the roots and poke out of the water"). An attractive introduction to an exotic locale.
School Library Journal
This stunning book spotlights the flora and fauna of Florida's Okefenokee Swamp, but it is applicable to most Southern swamps and bayous. The text is a version of the familiar poem "Over in the Meadow," with impeccable meter: "Deep in the swamp, in a hollow cypress knee,/Lived a mother flame bird and her little chicks Three./'Sweet-sweet!' trilled the mother. 'Sweet-sweet,' trilled the Three./So they trilled loud and long in their hollow cypress knee." Lies's meticulous and glowing acrylic illustrations feature myriad shades of green, yellow, and blue, calling to mind an Audubon painting. Concluding pages discuss each of the featured species, accompanied by detailed illustrations and interesting facts on the animal babies. This appealing title is a perfect combination of text and art. —Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
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Page count: 32
9 x 9