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Review: Over In the Ocean: In a Coral Reef

I couldn’t resist. I had to blow this image up. Jeanette Canyon’s artistry with polymer clay is something to behold.

Title: Over in the Ocean
In a Coral Reef
Marianne Berkes
Illustrator: Jeanette Canyon
Published by: Dawn Publications
Developer: Malachi Bazan
iOS, requires 4.0 or later

PreS-Gr 2-This counting rhyme, based on the traditional children’s song “Over in the Meadow,” highlights ocean life in vibrant reliefs intricately sculpted from polymer clay.

Children can choose to read to the story (Dawn Publications, 2004) by themselves, or listen to it read or sung. The award-winning book is engagingly read, but clumsily sung, by the author herself. Taping or shaking the iPad during or after the narration will cause the baby sea creatures perform the actions mentioned in the lyrics. Clownfish dart, stingrays stir, pufferfish puff, and needlefish skitter. A bothersome ding at the end of each stanza signals readers to turn the page in the narrated version.

The main menu allows for navigation between the home screen and a number of extras, including author, illustrator, developer, and publisher pages. The “Find All the Babies” game, which counts down from 10 seahorses to 1 octopus, challenges viewers to find and tap the sea creatures hidden in a single illustration. A small numeral tabulates the number of animals located; a large numeral zooms onto the screen when all have been found, reinforcing the learning.

While the colorful book will appeal to young readers, the “Fishy Facts” are above the intended audience’s comprehension level, incorporating terms such as amplified, formation, relatively, pursuit, double-serrated, and crevices without definition. Opportunity for interaction is minimal and blandly executed. Purchase this app solely for the inspiration its stunning and elaborate artwork will arouse. Leigh Ann Rumsey, Odessa-Montour CSD, Odessa, NY