Marianne Berkes has spent much of her life as a teacher, children’s theater director and children’s librarian. She is listed in “Something About the Author” and also in “Who’s Who in American Education” and “Who’s Who in America”
Marianne now lives in Florida, where the cacophony of sounds she hears from the pond in back of her home served as the inspiration for her first book,
published in 2000. She is a favorite presenter at schools and literary conferences, reading her award-winning books and talking about her publishing adventures.
Before moving to Florida over twenty years ago, Marianne was an early childhood educator in New York, and also directed children’s theater. Music, theater and writing have been a constant in her life and she puts all this to good use in her “interactive” children’s picture books.
“I write about things that interest me,” says Marianne. “And I love to do the research. For example, I have always been fascinated with frogs, and when I moved to Florida, I couldn’t believe the variety of sounds that came from the pond in the back of our home. I recorded them. Then, of course, I needed to find out which frog was making which sound; that required a lot of research.”
Marianne says she learns so much when she writes her books, and has always loved telling stories about animals. Her books are inspired by her love of nature.
The idea for Marianne’s second book, Seashells by the Seashore came when she was collecting shells at Sanibel Island in Florida. “I had never seen such a variety of shell shapes and colors in any one place,” says Marianne. “It was amazing to me that the creatures living inside these shells could create such incredible works of art.”
“I pictured children discovering shells that were bumpy or smooth, big or small, heavy or light–all very different and very special, just like them.” The paperback edition of this book contains a tear-out identification card to enhance the hands-on lesson in nature’s simple wonders.
Marianne’s next book, Marsh Morning, picks up where Marsh Music left off. As dawn appears a blackbird begins the first song of the morning. “I’m not an early morning person, but I had to get up before the birds to start this story. Once I got going, I loved hearing and recording the different bird sounds and doing the research.”
Marianne likes to tell students how important doing research is, and because she writes informational picture books, the facts must be accurate. Her frog book was reviewed by a herpetologist at The Bronx Zoo, her seashell book by a marine biologist, the bird book by the Audubon Society, and her ocean reef book by the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. All of Marianne’s books are carefully vetted by experts in their fields.
Her best selling book, illustrated in clay art by Jeanette Canyon, now also an App, Over in the Ocean, in a Coral Reef is about sea creatures living in an ocean reef, and once again there is a lot to be learned. “There is so much about our blue planet that we still don’t know. It’s such an amazing place!”
When visiting schools Marianne wants to open kid’s eyes to the magic found in our natural world, and “to touch the head as well as the heart. I want my books to educate, as well as entertain!” That’s why she calls her books “faction,” a combination of fact and fiction. “I have so many wonderful things I want to write about; ideas are all around us, especially in nature.”
Over in the Jungle, a Rainforest Rhyme, was released in 2007. Please see www.dawnpub.com for the many wonderful reviews and awards this book has received, including an IRA Teachers’ Choice and an NYSRA nomination. Recently, it was released as an interactive App. and received fantastic reviews.
Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun endorsed by the Hayden Planetarium in NYC. was released in 2008, as was Over in the Arctic: Where the Cold Winds Blow . This was followed by Going Home, the Mystery of Animal Migration and Over in Australia, Amazing Animals Down Under, both of which received numerous awards. Another award winner, Animalogy, was released in 2011. .
Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek! and The Tree That Bear Climbed! were 2012 releases, and What’s in the Garden? was released in March 2013. Over in a River and Anybody Home? came out in Fall 2013. In 2014, Daisylocks and The Swamp Where Gator Hides were released. 2015 brought Over on a Mountain and Tortoise and Hare’s Amazing Race . “I love coming up with new ideas, and I am so lucky to have ten incredible illustrators who make my words come alive!” What’s in store for 2016? Over on the Farm in the Spring, and Over in the Grasslands in the Fall. And Marianne’s not done yet– Baby on Board, How Animal Parents Carry Their Young is in the works for 2017.