Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
We loved this children's book! It truly delivers with cute, lovable animal characters, appealing art that doesn't overwhelm the senses, and a great message in teaching kids about the importance of the ecosystem. What's also amazing about this book is that it gives teachers and parents a basis on which to teach their students/children about ecosystems and the environment without being boorishly preachy. It is really up to the readers if they want to go over that or not. They can easily just enjoy the book for what it is: a cute, cheerful, fun, and beautiful work.
As the title suggests, the book focuses on Chesapeake Bay in Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is the location of a huge, diverse, and important ecosystem that includes rockfish, otters, beavers, seahorses, snapping turtles, and various types of birds like blue herons, egrets, eagles, and osprey among other animals. All of these animals are featured with a degree of importance. They are personified with names and individual functions, wants, and needs. For example, the beavers build their beaver dams, the blue crabs “tidy up” or clean, and many of the animals love to play with each other. If there was really any constructive criticism about all of this it would be that the functions of many of the other animals in the ecosystem really isn't explained. We know it might be disturbing and maybe inappropriate to show that some of these animals actually serve as food to humans and the other animals, but it would probably hit home the point more. These animals don't just exist and they don't just play, they actually help to sustain each other and the environment. What do the otters eat and do beside play? What about the eagles and the snapping turtles? They don't just exist to look cute or cool. They do something useful, right?
Maybe those questions are better left to the parent or the teacher reading this to the kids. The book is beautiful and entertaining, and perhaps that was the real point of it.
We have a special soft spot for the otters and beavers. They are just such cool, cuddly, adorable creatures with so much personality in real life, and that comes across here with the beavers busy building and the otters busy being silly, playful animals.
Chesapeake Bay has suffered from pollution, mostly due to humans, and the habitat is greatly being affected. Some animals like oysters are declining and so is the aquatic vegetation. These are serious issues that can be discussed around this book by parents and teachers, and it's food for thought for all readers. Heck, we did research just because of this book, and anything that raises awareness about a serious issue like this is a huge plus.
Check out this tremendously cute and adorable children's book about Chesapeake Bay animals!