Ocean Hide and Seek

Feathered Quill Book Reviews-Mar 2010

Through lyrical prose and beautifully rendered illustrations, Ocean Hide and Seek easily captures young readers’ imagination and interest in the mysteries of the underwater world. The song-like qualities of Kramer’s verse make reading this book out loud a pleasure. One page shows bright clown fish nestled among the wavy green and blue tentacles of its anemone home. “Clownfish colors, orange and white – orange and white, orange and white. Seeking shelter, taking flight, clownfish hiding in plain sight.”

The carefully selected wording informs allusively, prompting children to ask enthusiastic questions about these underwater wonders. Surely they will ask why the parrotfish has a “cocoon” around her at night or what is the name of that animal trying to look like a deadly sea snake. Lucky for adult readers, four pages of explanations and information provide the answers for most young readers’ questions. Delving beyond the simple narration, even children at the older range of the 4-8 year old set will learn about mimicry, disruptive coloration, and counter illumination, to name a few examples in this section of Ocean Hide and Seek.

Teachers and caregivers using this book as a jumping off point for further learning about ocean life can visit the publishers website,, to find a plethora of comprehension questions, quizzes, coloring pages and language arts, math, science and geography activities relating to Ocean Hide and Seek. There is even a link to buy stuffed underwater creatures featured in the book.

Quill says: Whether as a jumping-off point for launching further studies or for the sheer pleasure of the lyrical prose and soothing illustrations, this book is a wonderful watery treasure

Library Media Connection - Oct 2009

A simple poem about mysterious undersea creatures is spread beautifully across this thick-paged picture book. One rhyming stanza per spread refers to the habitat and unique feature that allows each animal to blend into or hide in their environment. The text overlays muted, murky color paintings of the sea world, illustrating the benefits of camouflage, coloring, and shifting shapes. A For Creative Minds section invites reader to freely use material from the book and the accompanying website for educational purposes. Brief facts about each animal are included, naming the creature and the specific camouflage technique it employs. This book would be at home in the animal science, ocean ecosystem, or poetry section of a collection. It could be read aloud to a picture book audience for its literary and art value or used as a basic resource for the beginner researcher. Educators will appreciate the suggested activities and resources available online. Language arts teachers would use the book as a tool to present the basics of rhyming poetry. Recommended.
Anna Hartle, Integrated Technology Teacher/Librarian, Cincinnati Country Day School

Booklist - February 2009

This effective picture book shows how ocean animals use different forms of camouflage to hide from predators. Beginning with a scene at the edge of the sea, the illustrations take readers far below the water’s surface to observe wildlife hidden in various ways. The double-page spreads carry large, horizontal pictures, many of which are notable for the extreme, though probably realistic, darkness of their colors. Patient study of the scenes is often rewarded as shadowy sea creatures gradually come into view. Four-line rhymed verses comment on the animals that can be seen in the pictures, though sometimes in a rather cryptic way. Happily for the many children who are left with questions (and the many adults who are unable to answer them), the book concludes with a four-page, illustrated section of information. This section dovetails nicely with the book’s content, offering clarification without resorting to page-by-page explanations.
- Carolyn Phelan

National Association of Underwater Instructors, Sources Magazine - 2nd Quarter 2009 Edition

Children love to play games, explore puzzles, and solve mysteries, and the ocean is full of wonderful mysteries. Discovering the sea and seeing its wonders excites even us grown-ups. Many of us are divers in large part because we were attracted to the beauties of the undersea world. Ocean Hide and Seek is a new book that brings the creatures of the sea and their many wonderful ways to children. It is a delightful book, beautifully illustrated, but it is much more than just a picture book about fish and other critters. Ocean Hide and Seek tells and shows the reader how the animals of the ocean have adapted for living and survival in their world.

Author Jennifer Evans Kramer’s poetic text tells how fish and other creatures are able to use disguise, camouflage, body shapes, even colors to conceal themselves. Some, she says, even advertise themselves, like the bright orange clownfish who knows it is safe living in the protective tentacles of a sea anemone. Each technique of concealment is illustrated by artist Gary Phillips, and the reader is challenged to find the subject, who may be “hidden in plain sight.” For younger children, Ocean Hide and Seek is ideally suited for interactive reading aloud, whether at bedtime or just sharing time. It’s a magical book about a magical and little known realm.

Children’s book publisher Arbordale Publishing has a lengthy list of titles designed to get kids excited about reading and learning. Each of their books also has a few pages at the end that feature fun facts and activities to enhance the book’s educational opportunities. In Ocean Hide and Seek, the book has “For Creative Minds.” Here the reader (or puzzled parent) will find a full commentary with easy line illustrations on the hiding that Evans Kramer covers compellingly and poetically in the body of the book. There is even a page on animal classification—What’s a cartilage fish, a bony fish, a mollusk, or an arthropod?

Judith Nasse, Children's Book Reviews - April 2009

This is such a beautifully designed book! The rich, dark colors, the text that reads like the lyrics of a song, and the depictions of undersea camouflage all meld together to become the epitome of a great picture book. The book looks at different classifications of sea creatures and shares how they each protect themselves by hiding in plain sight. For instance, the leafy sea dragon makes himself appear as undersea foliage. Author Jennifer Evans Kramer has done a splendid job of describing each animal in immediate rhyme. Illustrator Gary R. Phillips dares to take dark, rich colors and present them with intrigue such that they become interactive as well as beautiful. Children immediately begin to look for the next creature hiding in the illustration. The activities at the end of the book are both fun and informative. This book is highly recommended for children ages 3-7 as well as for early childhood classrooms.

Reading to Know - June 11, 2009

We're big ocean animal fans around here thanks to Nemo. What animal we are most interested in changes on a daily basis. Sometimes it's about the clown fish, other times whales and then we can go on a jelly fish kick. Currently we're all about the sharks (which thankfully make an appearance in some of the following books!).

I've talked about how much I like Arbordale books before and these books just solidify my fanhood. They produce some quality reading material all about animals. Imagine a whole line of animal-related books - and you've got yourself Arbordale.

We read through Ocean Hide and Seek which is told in rhyme. This is the most interesting Hide and Seek book I've ever seen and it's due in great part to the artist talent of illustrator Gary R. Phillips. Instead of bright pages full of color and ...things...he uses dark colors so that you have to look closely at the page to make out the outlines of the fish and underwater creatures. Still, it's not impossible to see the fish at all. Certainly no strain on the eyes. But the way that he illustrated with heavy use of blue and black (and yet the art is not simple by any means - they are lovely pictures) catches you off guard. As you turn the pages, you almost feel like you walked into a dark room where you can only make out shadows and you are reaching for a light switch. I don't feel like I can do his illustrations justice, except to say that they "really good."

Not to leave out mention of the author, she wrote the book in rhyming fashion with lots of repetition. Her words are written in such a way as to give the reader a feeling of rocking in the ocean. Really, this is a book that you feel and experience more than just read. It's really intriguing and different.

I love Sylvan's books as well because they are sturdy, well-made and the pages are glossier which helps bring the illustrations and animals to life.

If you haven't had an opportunity to check any of their books out - do! I think you and yours will enjoy them very much. I know that we do.

In the Pages blog - April 9, 2009

What a great book - of course it's wonderful for that ocean unit or storytime, but also perfect for your animal lovers too!! There are hidden creatures on every page which even makes it more fun - kids love those at our library!

School Library Journal - June 2009

Short verses and deep-hued paintings introduce the ways in which sea animals use camouflage for protection. Each spread presents one animal and its form of protection. For example, one page shows a crab that hides by attaching bits of kelp to its shell. The second line of each four-line verse repeats the last words of the first line twice in a “Muffin-Man”-like sequence: “Floating there, before our eyes–/before our eyes, before our eyes.” This gives a jarringly young feel to what is otherwise a serious informational book. The page quoted here ends with these graceful lines: “A seaweed curtain bares its prize,/a tiny dragon in disguise.” The illustrations, most of creatures that live far beneath the sea, are, of necessity, quite dark and are best viewed by individual readers. The endnotes are more than supplemental; they are necessary, as they explain the methods of camouflage and the species features. Extensive online support includes a teacher’s guide, which seems aimed at a third- through fifth-grade audience, and correlates with standards for specific states. Useful in collections where books on sea creatures or camouflage are needed.
Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA

Wild About Nature blog - March 2009

Can you spot the clown fish, the catshark, the piperfish or any of the other creatures lurking beneath Gary R. Phillip’s mysterious beautiful sea? It’s a game of hide and seek and the reader of this book is invited to play.

Along the way, we learn different ways sea creatures protect themselves from their enemies. Jennifer Evans Kramer’s repetitive, rhyming text introduces each creature and the unique way in which they stay safe. You will see an octopus form itself into the shape of a dangerous snake. Some creatures camouflage themselves by being transparent, like the jelly fish. A parrot fish can make a sleeping bag cocoon from their own mucus. We learn in the For Creative Minds section at the back of the book that this cocoon covers their scent and makes it difficult for predators to find them.

Readers will learn about these creatures and many more in Ocean Hide and Seek. What are you waiting for? Dive in!
- The Wild About Writing Trio

Nancy Attebury, children's book author - March 2009

Natural settings in the sea camouflage ocean creatures in this intriguing book that allows children to scope out illustrations to discover where the creatures are hiding. Clownfish, a variety of sharks, tangs, stonefish, crabs, and pipefish are some of the featured creatures. The text works well with a pleasing, rhyming lilt that is simple, yet informative. The second line of every stanza consists of two short phrases that are the same. This allows readers to chime in and repeat this part of the text. The author uses excellent verbs that add to the poetic tale. Luscious two-page underwater illustrations hide the creatures with expert fashion making the search for them all the more fun. End of book matter consists of pages that reveal how sea creatures utilize camouflage to hide, a section on classification, and a section with ideas to think about. Adding this book to preschool and early classrooms will enhance learning about science. It is also a fun read on its own. Its text is suited for students who are reading some things independently.

Armchair Interviews - February 2009

For quality children’s books, Arbordale is the best. Their books not only entertain, but they also educate children in an accessible and inviting manner.

Children (and adults) are curious and amazed by the mysteries of the oceans. The animals of all sizes are found in their hiding places or swimming around for all to see. These animals adapt to their surroundings and work constantly to survive. Can you find the animals on the pages of the books? Jennifer Evans Kramer’s book, Ocean Hide and Seek, is delightful. Children will ask for the story to be read again and again. Adding to the story is Gary Phillips’ stunning illustrations. They are vibrant and kids will want to reach out and touch the pages.

Armchair Interviews says: A great story and an animal classification activity makes for a must-have book.

Charlotte's Library - March 9, 2009

Imagine a book about sea creatures that, on the one hand, is a soothing sea creature book to read at bedtime, and which, on the other hand, serves as a springboard to discussions not just of the creatures but of the poetic subtleties of language. Such a book is this one.

With each beautifully illustrated pair of pages featuring a rhyming, repetitive verse about a single sea creature, this book appears at first a peaceful introduction to the ways in which ocean animals hide themselves:

"Clownfish colors, orange and white-
orange and white, orange and white.
Seeking shelter, taking flight,
clownfish hiding in plain sight."

This is the good-for-bed-time-reading side of this book.

But other verses are more challenging. Here's the octopus:

"Clever arms that dip and sway-
dip and sway, dip and sway.
Like deadly sea snakes seeking prey,
predators soon swim away."

Not so bed-timish, but a good springboard for discussion about what a predator is (although kids today seem to know this by the time they're three), and also about similes--which the grown-up might need to explain.

The grown-up planning to read this book aloud would be advised to read the pages at the end first. Here, in very straightforward prose, the ways in which the various creatures hide in the sea are explained. Even for an educated adult, this book has challenging bits on first read--it helps, for instance, to know in advance from reading the back that some parrotfish "make a clear, mucus "sleeping bag" cocoon at night." Otherwise, when the fish is described as "a queen in her cocoon," everyone is at sea (pun intended)

Speaking from experience with the various children I've tried this book on (four of them), older kids might not care for the repetitive poetry, and younger kids might be baffled by the poetic descriptions. There's not much one can do about the former, but I think that if the adult reader and the child have the patience to talk about the book in depth (this pun just happened) as they read it the first time through, they will learn a lot, and the book might well become a welcomed bed-time story on subsequent reads.

Stories for Children Magazine - March 2009

Have you ever looked out at the wide sea and wondered what kinds of things lie beneath it where there are so many places to hide? There are clownfish who swim among the poisonous tentacles of the sea anemone. Catsharks hunt prey, and whale shark swims into sight then fades away, both protected by their disruptive coloration. A leafy sea dragon mingles in with seaweed. The great white shark is a sneaky foe. The deep-sea bristlemouth seems almost invisible because of its counter illumination. Blue tangs blend in with the colors of the coral reef. Tiny crabs hide in kelp. An octopus mimics a deadly sea snake. Pipefish look just like blades of sea grass. And queen parrotfish can make a clear, mucus "cocoon" to cover their scent when they sleep.

Whether people live on the coast or far inland, I think that everyone is fascinated with the ocean and the great variety of life that teems within it. Jennifer Evans Kramer's lyrically rhyming text will give children a sense of wonder at what lives beneath the rolling waves, and the illustrations by Gary R. Phillips will provide a feeling of what it is actually like to be down there. The "For Creative Minds" section has four pages of activities about animal hide and seek, animal classification, and "Food for Thought." Additional information about "Related Websites" and "Teaching Activities" may be found at Arbordale Publishing's website to help parents and teachers to expand the learning possibilities. Furthermore, the author is donating a portion of her royalties to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Ocean Hide and Seek is a wonderful resource for youngsters who are interested in the sea.

Run of the Mill blog - February 2009

This cover nabbed the attention of my kids right away. I admit it is very intriguing; it is almost illuminated. The pages are glossy, and the book has sturdy construction. But in Ocean Hide and Seek, I found many of the pictures to be very dark and harder to enjoy. I realize that they are trying to emphasize the darkness of the ocean, but it was hard to enjoy the details of the ocean creatures with it so dark. I really did like "for creative minds" section at the back of this book. It had lots of good additional information, but honestly, it was only then that I connected the fact that the book was teaching about ocean camouflage techniques (yes, *duh*) but there was a reason for this; the text throughout the book was minimal and vague. I would next time read the book ahead of time and familiarize myself with the back section so I could teach *as* I read it aloud. The text was appealing to the children, as it held soothing repetition in its rhyming, but it also meant there was less space for using that rhyming for additional teaching. This is why I would gather more information myself first, and before we turn each page, I could add to what the camouflage method is, and why, how, etc. All in all, when I re-read it myself after looking through the back section I find it a very neat book. I learned a lot myself, but it's one the parent should be familiar with before sitting down with the kids. The website again had more resources, including printouts for geography, math and science application. But Sylvan, I'd still love a lapbook type activity! I am sure most homeschoolers would agree with me that quizzes aren't really the sort of thing we'd expect our young homeschooled children to do; it's not the most creative application of learned material, and lapbooking gives an opportunity for further investigation in an interactive manner.

A Patchwork of Books - February 2009

Ocean Hide and Seek, written by Jennifer Evans Kramer and beautifully illustrated by Gary R. Phillips is not written by an author as famous as Mo Willems, but it's fantastic all the same and deserves great recognition. Published by one of my favorite companies, Arbordale, this title, as well as their others, includes extra activities and facts in the back of the book in order to tie the story into real life. Love that! In this story the reader gets to learn about some great ocean creatures that hide in plain site, including schools of tang fish, tiny pipefish, and sea dragons. All of these animals (and lots more) are able to disguise themselves with their own bodies, keeping themselves safe from predators of the ocean.Told in very calm, repeating lines, this is a fantastic get-ready-for-sleep book. the illustrations are dark and soothing, and combined with the text, your little listener will soon be ready for bed! Let them do the activities included in the back of the book once they wake up in the morning!