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Awards & Honors

Water Can Be...

Written by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Violeta Dabija
Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1467705912 32 pages


Maybe you thought water was just for drinking and baths. But it does so much more! It gives us sprinklers to run through and ice cubes to cool our drinks and comfort owies. It shifts from water to fog to snow and ice. It gives life but also creates monstrous storms. Find out about the many roles water plays in this brief, poetic exploration of water throughout the year. Backmatter gives more thorough information.
Water can be a…
Thirst quencher.
Kid drencher.

Cloud fluffer.
Fire snuffer.

Journal Reviews

The simple text and spot-on rhymes belie the sophistication of the inherent message behind the verse—water is a life-giver.
—Kirkus Reviews
Salas and Dabija follow 2012’s A Leaf Can Be… with an equally contemplative and thought-provoking ode to the forms water takes and the functions it serves, both practical and whimsical.
—Publishers Weekly
This picture book about water, written in verse, lets young readers quench their thirst for rhyme and information at the same time. The book opens with “Water is water—it’s puddle, pond, sea,” setting the stage for rhyming pairs that describe the many different forms that water can take, such as “valley cloaker” (fog), “bruise shrinker” (ice), and “snowman former” (snow). The text is perfect for creating mental images and showing children what the words look like.
—School Library Journal

Reader Reactions

This poetic voyage provides ample opportunities for conversation about water, with a handy section at the end that helps parents delve more deeply into the scientific concepts. (Plus water activities!)

—Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

After spending more time with the book, readers begin to discover the depth. They might notice how it is subtly organized by the passing of the seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter – perhaps on the second reading...This is not a “hit-them-with-facts” STEM book, but instead it is a gentle, “pull-them-in-and-let-them-find-out-the-science-for-themselves” title.

—Wrapped in Foil

...it packs a lot of scientific information into a very appealing and easily digestible package.

—Story Time Secrets

This is a beautiful picture book. The text is written in verse and it flows easily. There are just a few words on each page, making it a quick, easy read that kids will enjoy.

—Batch of Books

Not every rhyming picture book is poetry. This one is.

—Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

It's hard to do justice to either the inspired poetry or the beautifully designed artwork without wanting to sit down beside you and just share it! ...The back matter contains even 'more about water' in notes that explain each entry while also using scientific vocabulary in keeping with the descriptive words. For example:

"Cloud fluffer: Clouds are made of water droplets that are so tiny they float! During the day, clouds can help cool Earth by blocking some of the sun's energy and heat. At night, they are like a blanket. They trap the sun's heat near the ground and keep Earth warm."

—Sal's Fiction Addiction

In my garden water can be: a magnifying lens (drop of water hanging from a leaf-tip); bee drinking fountain (water collecting in depressions), mushroom sprouters, soil soakers, seed-feeders.

What can water be in your neighborhood? 

—Sally's Bookshelf

I love exploring water within a dance class - the actions of water, the states of water, and how water travels high to low, across, around, and through. I explore water in elementary school classes and even with my 6th grade middle school students.

—Dancing Words Blog

Downloadable Activities

Write a poem!
Water Cycle
Wordle Fun
Classroom Guide
CCSS Guide

Photo Gallery

Making clouds from boiling water
Sketch © Violeta Dabija
wonder about the world
water cycle bracelet1
A STEM craft from the teaching guide
3 Can Be Books_Milaca
Students' Can Be... books
Laura at the beach as a kid
Laura and her husband Randy hit the slopes
Water Can Be started as River Can Be
A River Can Be... rejected
Laura and Annabelle by Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior
Annabelle and Laura cross the mighty Mississippi where it begins
bin of can be books_Milaca
Can Be... projects by students!
What Else Is a River
Brainstorming for What Else Is a River
Sketch © Violeta Dabija
frozen waterfall
Lake Superior
water can be bookmarks
Fishy bookmarks

More for Educators or Writers

How this Book Got Started

After A Leaf Can Be... came out in 2011 and was well-received, I immediately began thinking about a companion book. I first wrote A River Can Be..., but editor Carol Hinz rejected it, explaining that no all kids saw a river everyday. She wanted it to be more universal. She had such a good point. So I set to work expanding the concept to include the roles of all kinds of water in our world. I was able to keep some lines from River, but much of the text was researched and rewritten .

Poems I've Written

These poems connect to this book in topic, theme, or form—great for text-to-text connections!

Drop of Water
Running Water
kayaking over a rainbow
What the Rain Knows
The Voice of Winter, a villanelle by Laura Purdie Salas
thunder storm
cloud mosaic
Maddie Can Be...
A Rock Can Be... poetryaction
volcano dreams
A Lifesaver Can Be...

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