HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef | Book Spotlight
Over in the Ocean_ In a Coral Reef Book Spotlight

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef | Book Spotlight

The Children’s Book Review
Published: June 21, 2013

OverInTheOceanCoverOver in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef

Written by Marianne Berkes

Illustrated by Jeanette Canyon

Publisher’s Synopsis: This coral reef is a marine nursery, teeming with mamas and babies! In the age-old way of kids and fish, children will count and clap to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” while puffer fish “puff,” gruntfish “grunt” and seahorses “flutter.” The colorful art is fresh and fun – constructed entirely from clay-like material – and invites young fingers to fashion fishy forms.

Add this book to your collection now: Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef


Eye-popping artwork is the star of the show in Berkes’s lively, oceanic counting book, based on the classic children’s song Over in the Meadow. In Berkes’s version, creatures from the coral reef replace terrestrial fauna. She introduces a different animal in each full-bleed spread, but instead of bluebirds and muskrats, she highlights octopuses, pufferfish, and seahorses. Canyon uses polymer clay to create arresting visuals. In one spread, a sea anemone, its hot pink base crowned with rosy-tipped, lime-green tendrils, bursts from the page while mother clownfish darts after a trio of young ones. Their textured scales and vivid patterns stand out against a swirling blue background of coiled clay and small, bubble-like spheres. Young children will enjoy counting the offspring. Backmatter includes music and lyrics, further information about each animal, and an artists’ note explaining how the illustrations were created. ~Kirkus Reviews (September 2004)

Fresh lyrics using sea life are applied to the children’s tune “Over in the Meadow” on these stunningly illustrated pages. From one octopus to ten seahorses the creatures “squirt,” “dart,” and “flutter” around their parents. The art in the book is made with polymer clay. Tips for using the book with children, information about the marine animals, and music are included. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration. ~Horn Book (Spring 2005)

App Overview

A “lite” edition of an award-winning app for children is now available for free from the nature publisher Dawn Publications. “Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef” was named “Best Book App of 2012” by Kirkus Reviews. In it, children count, poke and jiggle the ocean animal babies to watch them graze, skitter, dart, and much more. The app is based on the book “Over in the Ocean” which won nine major awards, including Learning Magazine’s Teacher’s Choice Award and National Parenting Publications’ Gold Award. What a fun way to reinforce counting and reading while learning about the colorful creatures of a coral reef!


  • Children can touch the animal babies or jiggle the screen to watch them perform their distinctive true-to-life actions (for example, the pufferfish “puff” and the octopus “squirts” dark ink).
  • Kids will count the baby animals from one to ten as they touch the screen. (The full version contains a counting game.)
  • Choose between “Read to Me,” and “Read to Myself.” (The full version has a “Sing to Me” option.)
  • Remarkable artwork is constructed entirely from polymer clay! Kids will want construct art from colored clay too.

Over in the Ocean combines the talents of the author, Marianne Berkes, the illustrator, Jeanette Canyon, and the developer, Malachi Bazan of Simply Nature Media and Dawn Publications.

This app is appropriate for children. It does not contain ads or social media, nor does it collect data. It contains a link for purchase of the full version of the app which features a counting game and additional information about animals in the coral reef. It also references, but does not link to, other nature apps produced by Dawn Publications.

App Store link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/over-in-ocean-in-coral-reef/id657560846?mt=8


About the Publisher

Dawn Publications, www.dawnpub.com, is a nature niche publisher since 1979, specializing in connecting children and nature through quality books that inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation for all life on Earth. Malachi Bazan, through Simply Nature Media, has joined forces with Dawn to develop inspiring and educational products in digital format. Malachi has extensive experience as a character modeler for Hollywood movies.

About the Author

Marianne Berkes has spent much of her life with young children as a teacher, children’s theater director and children’s librarian.  She knows how much children enjoy brilliantly illustrated counting books with predictable text about real animals.  She’s retired but writes full time and visits schools.  She is the author of nine and counting children’s picture books from Dawn Publications. www.marianneberkes.com

About the Illustrator

Jeanette Canyon received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Columbus College of Art & Design.  Inspired by the philosophy and schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, she enjoyed a distinguished career as an artist and art educator of young children.  She now spends her time creating art for children’s books and visiting schools. www.jeanetteandchristophercanyon.com

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