THE SECRET BAY by Kimberly Ridley


by , illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 11
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Facts about estuaries are accompanied by pages that often include rhymes and always include watercolor illustrations.

“You’ll find me right here, where river meets ocean / shining and muddy and always in motion. / Grass, mud, and water might be all that you see, / but don’t be fooled—there is much more to me!” Similar clumsy verses abound, complemented by prose paragraphs that explain and expand on the verse. Although many of the watercolors are colorful and well-executed, it is sometimes hard to read the text printed over the art—especially tiny names of flora and fauna. Some fascinating information is communicated through fairly sophisticated prose, as in the passage about how halophytes (salt-loving plants) have adapted to brackish water: “While pickleweed stores excess salt in compartments in its leaves, smooth cordgrass ‘spits out’ extra salt through special pores. Look closely at blades of smooth cordgrass, and you can see salt crystals.” This is followed by another, seemingly obligatory, pair of bad couplets—an unfortunate pattern in the book. In a similar vein, the glossary contains words already well-explained in the text, such as “plankton,” but fails to define the unexplained word “spawn.” The importance of preserving all players in the estuary ecosystem does come out clearly, and there are interesting tidbits of word derivation, as well as a lively section about how various animals avoid/escape predators.

Wade past the subpar poetry to find some good science. (list of estuarine animals and plants, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-88448-433-2
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Tilbury House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2015


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