#570 – Water Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas & Violeta Dabija

water can be cover.

Water Can Be . . .

by Laura Purdie Salas & Violeta Dabija, illustrator

MillBrook Press               4/01/2014


Age 4 to 8       32 pages


“Water can be a . . . Thirst quencher. Kid drencher. Cloud fluffer. Fire snuffer. Find out about the many roles water pays in this poetic exploration of water throughout the year.”


“Water us water—

it’s puddle, pond sea.

When springtime comes splashing,

the water flows free.”


Water Can Be . . . is the second Laura Purdie Salas picture book reviewed here at KLR. The first was A Leaf Can Be . . . (reviewed here) which is about all the things a leaf can be that we never think about or realized. In that same vain, Water Can Be . . . is about all the things we may not notice about water. Told in rhyming text, the story needs the illustrations, as the two together make the wonderful story of what Water Can Be . . .

There are a few things that water can become that I had not thought of. We all know that snow is water, rain is water, and my personal favorite, ice is water. Have you ever heard of a “woodchuck warmer?” Did you know that water heavily influences the woodchuck warmer? Me either. I had no idea what a woodchuck warmer is, or that water was involved, and honestly, the illustrations failed me on this. It looks like an animal sleeping under a blanket of leaves.

In the back of the book, the author wrote a guide to each thing water could be. Thanks to that guide, I can explain how a woodchuck warmer and water influence each other. Woodchucks burrow in the ground and hibernate. If not for the snowfall atop the leaves that lay upon the burrow opening, and across the land above the burrow, these winter homes would become tragically cold and the woodchucks would most likely not survive the winter. Water, now in the form of snow, acts as an insulator. That is one heck of a job for water and it works wondrously.

piture catcher

The illustrations are gorgeous, just as they were in A Leaf Can Be . . . but the author presents the water possibilities in a scattered manner. Spreads jump from a light image, say of two kids playing in a water sprinkler or fluffer clouds, to a ship at trouble in a storm or a firefighters putting out a forest fire, as birds quickly fly away, sometimes in the same spread. Most images are in shades of bluish-green, some darker than others.  My favorite illustration is water as a picture catcher. A young girl looks at herself in the smooth surface of a little pond and sees a reflection of herself. The illustration is fantastic. I love that the facial expressions are nearly identical and the nice shade of red in the girl’s coat.

Each thing water can become is beautifully visualized so kids can instantly understand the two-word concepts presented, such as thirst quencher /  kid drencher and home maker / ship breaker.  Younger children will grasp most of the possibilities. Heck, even an adult can understand what water can be . . . well, maybe not all of the concepts.

Water Can Be . . . is a home and school library keeper. In schools, it is useful for teaching younger children about the elements—beginning with water—in its many forms, performing many life-affirming tasks. There are more uses than what Water Can Be . . . rhythmically covered. The author challenges the reader to find more on his or her own. What do you think Water Can Be . . .?

WATER CAN BE . . . Text copyright © 2014 by Laura Purdie Salas. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Violeta Dabija. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Get a copy of Water Can Be . . . at AmazonB&NLerner Publishingyour local bookstore.

*10% of author’s revenue is donated to WaterAid.org


Learn more about Water Can Be . . . HERE.

Meet the author, Laura Purdie Salas, at her website:   http://www.laurasalas.com/

Meet the illustrator, Violeta Dabija, at her website:   http://www.violetadabija.com/

Find books at the Millbrook Press website:

an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/


Also by Laura Purdie Salas

A Fuzzy-Fast Blur: Poems about Pets

A Fuzzy-Fast Blur: Poems about Pets

Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing (See It, Write It)

Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing (See It, Write It)

BookSpeak!: Poems About Books

BookSpeak!: Poems About Books








Also by Violeta Dabija

Nach Regen kommt Sonne und andere Bärengeschichten (After rain comes sun bears and other stories)

Nach Regen kommt Sonne und andere Bärengeschichten (After rain comes sun bears and other stories)

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Racconti di piccoli animali. Racconti per la nanna  (Stories of small animals. Stories for Bedtime)

Racconti di piccoli animali. Racconti per la nanna (Stories of small animals. Stories for Bedtime)









water can be

12 thoughts on “#570 – Water Can Be . . . by Laura Purdie Salas & Violeta Dabija

    • Did you review A Leaf Can Be . . . ? It would have been in blogging year one. Water Can Be. . . is similar, but I think better than the first. Think of all the things water can be, and you have read the text. Can’t help you with the illustrations unless you go to your bookstore and take a look. You and Josie would love Water Can Be . . .


    • Thank you for writing such a wonderful book that will stimulate kids’ thinking. Just above you is kid. A real live kid and he says, “I need to read this!” Oh, and writersideup is incorrect. Publishers have been smart enough to match an outstanding illustrator with an outstanding writer. Simple as that.


      • Ah, but Sue, you have to keep in mind something about the pub. industry: everything about it involves opinion and taste when it comes to which illustrators they think match each story. They don’t pick just one, they have a list, whether it’s short or long. They ask their #1 choice first. If that illustrator is available for the project AND likes that project enough to say yes, then the publisher gets their first pick, and so on. That’s why I say “lucky” when the illustrations are wonderful and go beautifully with the text 🙂 That also doesn’t mean that the illustrator that worked perfectly for the project was necessarily the publisher’s first choice, either! And honestly, I don’t always agree with the match-ups I see with picture books, but that doesn’t mean I’m right. I also have an opinion and taste which often differs from the published book 🙂


  1. Water can be scary. I am a little bit afraid of my water dish. It’s my 3rd one, but I will only sneak up on it and take a few quick licks if I’m dying of thirst. Mom says I’m mental….

    Love and licks,


    • Did you have to go on the defensive and take those first 2 bowls apart? Good for you! Water can be treacherous. It’s your job to protect your momma, your home, and you. I hope you got a treat each time you took out a nasty bowl. 😀

      My kitties had a wonderful flowing water bowl that served up cool water. They would not use it. After your comment, I am wondering if the running water scared them. They like their bowl of plain, unmoving water. 😦


      • I didn’t actually destroy my bowls. Mom kept trying out new ones to make me less afraid. But I’m afraid of ALL of them. She even put a drop of orange juice in to try to make me drink, but the vet told her to stop. He said if I’m thirsty, I’ll drink. I guess I’m not thirsty….. I agree with the kitties – flowing water would freak me out!


  2. We’d all be nothing, without water. 😉 Love the concept of this book and the gorgeous illustrations. Super review, Sue!


    • Thanks. Ms. Salas wrote another just as gorgeous, with the same illustrator, called A Leaf Can Be b. . . about all the things a leaf can be. The review is not wonderful (my writing was new and not great), but the book is fantastic and, well, it just is awesome. I was so thrilled when Water Can Be . . . arrived. 🙂


  3. It’s only about a month ago I became aware of Laura Purdie Salas and her amazing work. I requested every book available through the library and read them all, this being one of them. Her writing and subject matter is exquisite, to say the least—and, of course, she lucked out with these talented illustrators! Just love her work and was glad to see this on your review list, Sue 🙂 Thanks!


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