River Beds: Sleeping in the World's Rivers

Mom Central - Dec 2008

For your nature explorer comes a book by Gail Langer Karwoski that both teaches kids the variety of habitats on our planet and takes a look at animals that aren’t given much attention. I even learned something while reading through it with my young niece! For example, I had never heard of the capybara, the world’s largest rodent found in the Amazon. Whether it’s the tropical Amazon, the temperate Thames in England, or the Nile in Egypt, a little boy follows the lives of the animals that inhabit these rivers. River Beds is not just a fun read, but it teaches both a geography lesson and a biology lesson to young kids. Readers everywhere will enjoy the beautiful illustrations by Connie McLennan that highlight the fun journey and will love learning about the unique behaviors of the animals highlighted in this book.

ForeWord Magazine - July 2008

“All over the world, mammals burrow in snug dens or snooze on riverbeds of sand and silt,” begins this soothing sequel to Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean. Animals that are familiar to youngsters such as otters, dolphins, hippos, and beavers are featured alongside rare mammals like the capybara, the water vole, and the platypus. Short texts explain that otters sleep “inside a hollow tree” in Mississippi while the river dolphin of South Asia takes naps “for mere seconds before it wakes to click and touch and breathe again.”

Readers not only learn where the animals sleep, but also how they drift off to sleep. Asian short-clawed otters dry their bodies before cuddling with family members, yet a lone beaver goes to sleep while it “tucks its head between its hind legs and hugs front paws to its chest.” The illustrations provide snapshots of the animal in its habitat. Two friendly otters playing together, a single otter drying his fur, a sleeping child, and an otter “letting its head droop on a neighbor’s warm rump” share a double-page spread.

The “For Creative Minds” section in the back of the book includes helpful resources that teachers and parents can use to extend the story. An adaptation activity asks readers to match the adaptations and descriptions to the animal while the map activity encourages readers to locate the continent where each animal lives. The author, a former K-12 teacher who attended the University of Minnesota for graduate school, has earned numerous awards, including the Georgia Author of the Year for Children’s Literature Award and the Most Outstanding Author of the Year Award from the Just for Moms Foundation for Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean. The illustrator, who has contributed artwork to Domitila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition and Rainforest Grew All Around, received degrees from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, California State University in Sacramento, and the Academy of Art College in San Francisco.

When River Beds opens, appealing illustrations show a curious boy in a boat drifting down the river thinking about the animals that live nearby. At the end of the book, the boy is asleep in his bed on the bank of the river. Before drifting off to sleep, readers can also travel to each of the continents and dream peacefully of fellow mammals snuggling in their beds. (June)

Booklist - Aug 2008

Some mammals burrow into the earth to sleep, but others take their rests near or in water. Children follow a boy in a rowboat as he makes his way around the world, visiting animals who "dream by a stream." The visual device of the boy adds child appeal, but the real stars here are the animals themselves: a beaver in his lodge; a capybara, the world's largest rodent, asleep on a mat of grass near the Amazon River; a water vole slipping through the underwater entrance to its grassy den. Then there are the mammals that live in the water, such as India's river dolphin. Softly colored illustrations capture the feel of evening, matching the gentle yet informative tone of the text. Teachers and parents will like the back matter, which includes activities linked to a rivers map and a game that asks readers to link pictures of animals with their descriptions (not always easy to do). Additional activities are available on the publisher's Website.

Book Links - March 2009

In this sequel to Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean (Arbordale, 2007), readers follow a boy in a rowboat as he makes his way around the world, visiting animals who live and rest near or in rivers. Backmatter includes activities and a game that asks readers to link pictures of animals with their descriptions.

Carol's Notebook-March 2012

The illustrations are wonderful. The other thing I really like about both of these, as with the other Arbordale,  is the For Creative Minds section in the back. It expands on the book, giving more facts, providing activities. It’s a great addition that enhances the educational value of the books.

Midwest Book Review - April 2009

Grab your imagination, a coat and a paddle and travel to the ten major rivers of the world in River Beds! Youngsters will delight as they learn about the restful sleeping habits of the mammals native to these ten rivers. Children will enjoy an imaginary boat ride down each river as they discover how different animals get ready for bedtime. Stunning and realistic pictures by illustrator, Connie McLennan, engage readers with extraordinary details of what different mammals look like in their peaceful and private habitats. Author, Gail Langer Karwoski has magically transformed science and research information into soothing storybook text that glides across each page. River Beds is a restful and peaceful adventure that will leave audiences searching for their favorite sleeping den. Educational activities compliment this storybook with a "For Creative Minds" section and "River Map Activity" for geography lessons. Children and adults will enjoy honing their map reading skills when they are asked to locate mammals and rivers on the colorful maps included. Readers will burrow under their covers with River Beds as they curl up on soft pillows to enjoy this creative and educational storybook.

Armchair Interviews - June 2008

River Beds is the sequel to the award-winning Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean that received “Learning Magazine’s” 2007 Teachers’ Choice Award and the 2005 Mom’s Choice.

River Beds examines how mammals around the world sleep in or around ten major rivers. All the continents (except Antarctica) are represented. The Mississippi River and otters are discussed as are beavers living near the St. Laurence River. The Amazon River is home to the pink river dolphins called botos (this was new information to me) and the Thames River is home to a water vole (do you know what a vole is?). The Danube River hosts minks, the Indus River houses dolphins. Do you know where the Indus River is? I have to admit, the Nile inhabitants were my favorite. You’ll have to read the story to see what animal that is!

River Beds: Sleeping in the World’s Rivers is entertaining and educational. It’s written and illustrated in such an attractive and fun way that I suspect many children will be enticed to learn more about other animals and other rivers–or perhaps they will focus on one of the rivers in the book.

There are additional learning opportunities at the back of the book and readers and teachers can go to their web site and click on the book’s cover to find supplemental materials.

Armchair Interviews says: A must have for family libraries, and teachers should have it also.

Athens Banner-Herald - Oct 2008

Would you like to know how river animals all over the world sleep? Did you know that river otters wrap themselves in plants so they don't float downstream?

"River Beds" will show you how these creatures live; and in the back of the book, there is a colorful map that shows you where the animals live!

There is also a matching activity at the end for readers to test what they've learned. I really love animals, and there were many things in the book that I didn't know about. The pictures by Connie McLennan are gorgeous; I took a lot of time studying them, and noticed how detailed they really are.

I think it would be fun for little kids to find the animals in the pictures, and for the older kids to learn more about these animals and where they live. The author, Gail Karwoski, lives and teaches in Athens. I recently met her and had my book signed. "River Beds" is a sequel to "Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean." I recommend this book for ages 3-9. - Grace Allen Polaneczky is 9 years old and lives in Athens with her mom, dad and little brother. She is homeschooled and enjoys reading, writing, drawing and making movies.

Stories for Children Magazine - Aug 2008

Author Gail Karwoski and Illustrator Connie McLennan did a terrific job on this gentle and interesting picture book about nine rivers around the world and the sleeping habits of the animals living by each river.  It was a great learning lesson for me – I found out the names of animals I'd never heard of before!  This book was written to lull little ones to sleep, but it also serves as a wonderful geography lesson for older children and adults as well. The only continent not represented in this book was Antarctica.  Can you guess what nine rivers the author picked? You'll just have to read this book to find out!

As with all Arbordale books, there is a section at the end of the book and also online called For Creative Minds. It contains "Adaptation Matching Activity" (which has all the animals mentioned in the story) as well as a section entitled "River Map Activity" that I found fascinating and fun.  This is a great all-around quality Arbordale book that rates a high five from me for its ability to hold my interest from beginning to end.

In addition, readers can find cross-curricular “Teaching Activities,” an audio reading, child-friendly “Learning Links,” and comprehension and math quizzes for free at - Gayle Jacobson-Huset, Managing Editor - Aug 2008

Pros: Illustrations, geography, animal adaptations, educational content

Cons: Made me sleepy

The Bottom Line: This soothing lesson on where animals sleep expands the world a little more for young readers while introducing them to habits of ten river-dwelling animals.

A snooze by a stream, a treat welcomed by many, offers a chance to dream. Yet, the author asks young readers to consider the question of sleeping in a stream. What would it be like? She lets several animals from around the world respond in this children’s book, River Beds Sleeping in the World’s Rivers.

This sequel to Gail Langer Karwoski’s award-winning book Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean (2005 Mom’s Choice and 2007 Teacher’s Choice) takes young readers, perhaps pre-naptime readers to nine major rivers to meet ten mammals at naptime. Karwoski and the illustrator, Connie McLennan, let children glimpse some of the many ways in which mammals sleep either in or next to these rivers. We travel with a young boy that we meet on the first page and with him readers explore the homes of ten mammals.

With simple text readers see otters in a hollow tree next to the Mississippi River, beavers in the their lodge in the St. Lawrence River, pink river dolphins and a capybara snoozing in or near the Amazon River, voles in a riverbank den on the Thames River, mink under the roots of a tree next to the Danube River, river dolphins in the Indus River, Asian short-clawed otters in their den next to the Mekong River, hippos along the Nile, and a platypus under the bank of the Brisbane River. With each of these animals children (and adults) learn a little more about these animal homes and sometimes their very secret entrances.

Did you know that the river dolphins nap for seconds before waking to click and touch, rise to the surface and breathe? Did you know the hippo uses the water as a soft pillow for slumbering in the hot African sun?

Gail Langer Karwoski’s collection of brief descriptions for each animal is perfect for the ages of four to eight. Four year olds will enjoy meeting these different animals and learning how to say their names (capybara, hippopotamus) but also seeing the ways in which some animals sleep. Many at that age, unless they’ve been exposed to animals at home, just expect all animals sleep in beds much like they do. The illustrator, Connie McLennan, really makes this book valuable with her detailed images of the animal’s home and her soft watercolors.

The mink’s burrow under the roots of a tree shows the soil, rocks, and roots beneath the ground and the ice-covered water and snowy surface that surrounds it. These are quite realistic and the sleepy animals are just as adorable as our sleepy children. Quite honestly, all the yawning that the little boy did throughout the book had me ready for a nap by the end.

It’s A Arbordale Publishing Book

Arbordale books are winning awards hand over fist. Every time I look one of their books has garnered yet another award. There is a reason for that. They design their books for educators and for home schooling. Each book contains or has access to complete lessons that complement learning standards and goals. Experts on the book’s topic provide guidance and verify the content for accuracy of information. This book was overseen by 12 experts from places such as the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Virtual Explorers, St. Louis Zoo, Australian Platypus Conservancy and more. The educational features included are

• For Creative Minds (at the back of the book) with an Adaptation Matching Activity and A River Map Activity. These can be photocopied or printed from Arbordale’s website for classroom and educational use.
• An online Teaching Activity resource with 23 pages of activities in math, language arts, science, research, geography, and art. This contains guidance for before, during and after reading the book.
• Also online, reading and math quizzes
• Related websites full of resources for each animal. Many of the sites offer additional activities for kids and teachers.
• Online interviews with both the author and the illustrator, something that can appeal to the older readers in the targeted gage-group.
• A chart with Lexile and Accelerated Reading levels for each of the Arbordale book.

I continue to be a strong advocate for Arbordale books. These consistently impress me with their quality and value. A nearly second grade girl recently spent two days at my house while her father finished a floor project. I let her explore my books and she fell in love with this book as have I and I fully expect to see teacher and parent awards given to River Beds.

This might be a perfect bedtime story as well as a classroom lesson. This concludes with an invitation to the reader to "curl up on a soft pillow, burrow under dry covers, and close your eyes. Let the rhythmic lap, lap of water lull you to sleep as you drift downstream, dreaming of rivers far and near." I wonder which animal they will dream of or pretend to be as they snooze.

My thanks to Arbordale Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to provide an honest review of this book.

Recommended: Yes

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database - Aug 2008

The lapping of river waters gently pulls readers and listeners into this delightful and informative tale about how mammals sleep in or near the rivers. Wistful illustrations allow viewers to become the child who learns about the mammals as he floats beside them in the rivers. Otters snoozing on beds of sand and silt, beavers nestling into a snug lodge, pink dolphins rising for air and sinking to sleep and hippos resting their head on water pillows are but some of the mammals featured. The tale is told with rich verbs and descriptions that make for pleasant listening. In addition, end of book activities offer the opportunity to match mammals with their descriptions and to plot coordinates on a world map to learn where the mammals live. This book is a sequel to Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean. Both books work well as supplements to geography and science programs. - Nancy Attebury

Laura Williams' Musings - Sept 17, 2008

This is such a delightful and educational book with exceptional illustrations.

I read it last night to the children just before they went to bed and they loved it.  They were getting sleepy by the end of the book so it was  a perfect bedtime book but also could be used during the daytime to spin off into discussions about each of the animals within the book. The oldest two boys wanted to do that last night but I told them it was bedtime and it would have to wait.

You'll learn about various animals such as the otter, capybara, platypus and more and where these magnificent animals sleep.

It makes a wonderful addition to a child's library or homeschooling family's library.  In the back of the book is some fun educational facts to help spark the love of learning in your child.

In the Pages - Aug 2008

River Beds by Gail Langer Karwoski, illustrated by Connie McLennan is another great read.  Again, I must say Arbordale also specializes in making their illustrations the best they can be - they find superb illustrators and their work is almost life-like.  River Beds is a beautiful book that takes you around the world on a boat ride and shows you how mammals sleep  on 10 different rivers in the world.  Great concept and I can see it being used in story hours/classrooms as well.  You could take off on the bedtime/sleep theme, rivers, many more - it is just superb!

June 2008

Recently I met some 4th graders who were excitedly proclaiming
and sharing favorite words. These kids came to mind as I read
Gail Karwoski's RIVER BEDS. It is rich with lively and colorful
words: snug...tuckered out...hunkered down...nuzzle, and
phrases: a dry furry heap...the soft pillow of water.

RIVER BEDS describes the lives, and especially the sleeping
behavior of a fascinating variety of mammals that live on or
in rivers all over the world. Though Gail's book can be read for
the fun of facts and lively language, its educational value is enhanced
by pages of additional information, maps, and questions that
lead readers to use the maps. The book would be especially
useful as a read-aloud for lower elementary grades.

- Laurence Pringle, critically acclaimed children's book author