At the Marsh in the Meadow

Freshwater marshes are found throughout the United States and in many countries around the world. And in every marsh, there is an opportunity to view dozens of species of animal life. Written in a rhyming cumulative style like The House that Jack Built, At the Marsh in the Meadow portrays the wetlands food chain, showing how all forms of life, from the mud at the bottom of the marsh to the birds in the sky, are directly connected to their marsh home. Author Jeanie Mebane has worked with the National Park Service and U. S. Forest Service, and has lived near or worked at marshes from Florida to Arizona and Alaska.

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$8.99 $8.99
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Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 1
Dewey 577.68
Lexile AD770L
ATOS Reading Level 5.1
Guided Reading Level J
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585369584), Paperback (9781585369799), PDF (9781634707923), Hosted ebook (9781634708043)
Copyright 2016
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 11 x 9
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • Eureka! Silver Award, Winner, 2016

Booklist - At the Marsh in the Meadow

A freshwater marsh is much more than just standing water. From the mucky mud and the reeds growing in it to mayflies nibbling its algae to the eagle swooping down to catch a fish, the marsh teems with life. Using the cumulative style and cadence of “This Is the House That Jack Built,” Mebane has created a fascinating look at the food chain in the marsh. The text is made up of short lines with the last word in each printed in colorful ink for emphasis. Guerlais’ vibrantly colored illustrations are eye-catching but sometimes lose an accurate sense of scale when featured creatures are enlarged to show detail. The information in the book is light but conveys a good sense of the relationships among the marsh’s living things. A glossary and appended notes about this ecosystem and its food chain extend concepts from the main text, though no references are provided. Pair with Gail Gibbons’ Marshes and Swamps (1998) for a more informational look at marsh life.

School Library Journal - At the Marsh in the Meadow

The food chain is brought to life in a “The House That Jack Built”-esque poem with cumulative phrases. Readers see how algae at the bottom of a marsh supports the mayflies, which are in turn food for the water spiders. The water spiders are prey for the dragon flies, which sustain the minnows, and so on. Mebane and Guerlais combine their skills to create a harmonious vision of healthy marsh life. The visuals depict a sunlit golden haze above the waters with warming rays and sparkling bubbles of light beneath. This is a gentle view of the food chain. Three of the creatures, mayflies, dragonflies, and tadpoles, present smiley faces despite their role as predators. The hunting of prey is generally not depicted: only the eagle is in active pursuit of food, with sharp claws to snatch the slender fish, which she then offers to her eaglets. A brief statement on the marsh food chain is appended. VERDICT An attractive yet additional purchase.

Kirkus Reviews - At the Marsh in the Meadow

A simple text slowly adds members of a marsh food chain, “House That Jack Built”-style, from mud to raptors. A serene double-page spread with vivid sunrise colors and an early morning mist proclaims: “This is the marsh / in the middle of the meadow.” Equally artistically enticing pages follow, with: “This is the mucky mud / On the bottom of the marsh / In the middle of the meadow.” The text continues in the tradition of a cumulative folk rhyme, using colorful language that complements the vibrant art. “This is the big eagle / That swoops from up high / To grasp the fish / That gulp down the tadpoles / That slurp up the minnows….” Even at its very longest, the cumulative rhyme ends with “the reeds / That grow in the mucky mud / On the bottom of the marsh / In the middle of the meadow.” The fairly sophisticated content and vocabulary seems ill-suited to the nursery-rhyme format, begging the question of audience. As with many food-chain explanations aimed at children, the producer and consumer parts are well-developed, and the decomposers receive no mention. Is this because the decomposers would have to eat the dead remains from the other categories, and live eaglets are more appealing than anything dead? This is understandable, but it seems to force the audience to a younger range than the recommended early-elementary children. Simplistic science with appealing illustrations and a catchy text.

Author: Jeanie Mebane

Author Jeanie Mebane has lived and worked in several national parks from Alaska to Florida. Wherever she lives, she enjoys learning about the plants, animals, and other natural history of the area. An outdoors person at heart, she enjoys reading, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and travel. She grew up in Nebraska and graduated from college there. She and her husband spend most of their time at their home near Seattle.

Illustrator: Gerald Guerlais

Gerald Guerlais was born in in Nantes, France, and graduated from the National School of Applied Art. While he was a child, his family moved quite a bit. Having to adapt to a new school in every city, Gerald developed his observation and drawing skills to make new friends, inspired by the landscapes as well as the many people he met. His clients include Disney, National Geographic Learning, Penguin Books, and Xilam Animations. Aside from illustration, he has many other interests, including co-leading the artistic and charity project: “Sketchtravel,” a real sketchbook shared by 70 illustrators from around the world. Gerald lives in Paris with his wife, Sophie, and their daughter, Lisa.

  • Beginning of text
  • The Marsh Food Chain
  • More about Marshes
  • Glossary
Author/Illustrator biography
Glossary of key words
Full-color illustrations