Arnosky, Jim. Babies in the Bayou. Illustrated by author. New York: Puffin Books, c2007.
I picked up this book at a little used book store here in New Orleans the other day. I’ve rented it from the library before but didn’t get a chance to read it with all the chaos in my life.
After I read it I was like wow, this is a really cute book for children from the bayou, or a cultural book for children around the world that doesn’t grow up around it. The story brings us through the bayou and tells what kind of animals are there by way of telling us about the babies. Of course, not all the bayou animals are listed, but the ones that you are sure to see are. The text is easy enough to read for an early reader, or it is a good read for Read Aloud. Some of the text on pages end in comma, encouraging a pause and page turn.
The illustrations aren’t crisp in clear, but in a way they represent the perfect picturesque of nature you will find there. The animals aren’t very detailed but you can definitely figure out what they are. We’re also shown the Spanish moss that plagues trees everywhere. I say plagues because although it holds a beauty like none other as it hangs and drapes along the trees and swamp, it attracts bugs, including lice (at least that’s what the adults tell us children). Throughout the book the animals in the background have a reflection in the water, and I thought that was great of the illustrator to capture. There is a purple lily flower that grows in the wild here, and it is protected by the parks. If you are caught picking them or destroying them you will be fined. These are shown in the book and that is great! I also love the fact that we see animals not mentioned such as lizards and mosquito hawks and red birds. This book does a really good job of capturing the bayou. The illustrator uses drab, almost pastel colors to capture everything, but in the wild I find things are a bit more brighter, but I think with using brighter colors it may have looked more playful rather than naturesque.
If anyone is in the New Orleans area in the future and wants to view some of these guys up close I would highly recommend Louisiana Tour Co. for a swamp tour and city tour! http://louisianaswamp.com/ Also, visit http://www.nps.gov/jela/index.htm to find out more about our swamp and park preservations.
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