Monday, July 16, 2007

Over in the Ocean

Well...I'm back with two more books about the sea. This time the focus is on coral reefs.

Written by Sylvia A. Earle
Photographs by Wolcott Henry
National Geographic Society, 1999

Hello, Fish!: Visiting the Coral Reef is a nonfiction book for young children illustrated with wonderful underwater photographs taken by Wolcott Henry. Henry has explored coral reef areas in different parts of the world--including Hawaii, the Florida Keys, the Galapagos Islands, and Indonesia. The author, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, is a marine biologist with a Ph. D. from Duke University.

This book introduces readers to twelve different fish that live in and around coral reefs: spotted moray, clownfish, stargazer, silvertip shark, rainbow scorpionfish, brown goby, red goby, damselfish, striped catfish, frogfish, spotted stingray, and seahorse. Hello, Fish! begins with a brief introduction about fish and coral reefs and a world map in which reefs are shown in orange.

Format of the Book: Each fish is given a two-page spread that includes a large close-up photograph of the animal and a short informational paragraph. Above each paragraph, the fish is identified in large, bold letters and two short lines of colored text. Here's an excerpt from the book:

This curvy fish--what could it be?
A seahorse, with room to roam the sea.

Seahorses are small fish with large eyes.
They have a big appetite for tiny crustaceans.
Like people, they choose partners for life.
They usually stay together even during stormy weather.

The paragraph also explains how mother seahorses lay their eggs in the pouches that the father seahorses have in their bellies.

Hello, Fish! is not the kind of book one would read to get in-depth knowledge of the subject--but it's a fine book for young children to browse through. Children are sure to be intrigued by the underwater photographs--especially those of a spotted moray eel with its jaws opened wide, a stargazer that is indistinguishable from the sand and rocks under which it is camouflaged, a little brown goby peeking out from an empty worm tube, and a cluster of bewhiskered striped catfish. They will also see how brightly colored some of the reef inhabitants are.

Written by Marianne Berkes

Illustrated by Jeannette Canyon

Dawn Publications, 2004

Over in the Ocean is a counting book written in verse that follows the format and rhythm of "Over in the Meadow." There are many reasons to recommend this book. First, it's an excellent book to read aloud. Second, the book has an attractive layout and the colorful, three-dimensional illustrations, shaped entirely from polymer clay, are really gorgeous and eye-catching. Third, the number words are printed in different colors to distinguish them from the rest of the text. Next, the author includes the full text of Over in the Ocean on one page at the end of the book along with the music to which it is to be sung. Other resources included in the back matter are the following:

  • Additional information about the coral reef and the animals named in the book
  • Fingerplay Fun! with directions for different hand movements children can make when singing the song
  • Tips from the Artist
  • A Sampling of Nature Awareness Books from Dawn Publications

Here's an excerpt from the book:

Over in the ocean

Far away from the sun

Lived a mother octopus

And her octopus one.

"Squirt," said the mother.

"I squirt," said the one.

So they squirted in the reef

Far away from the sun.

The manuscript for Over in the Ocean was reviewed by the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.


Anonymous said...

We loved Hello, Fish! Isn't Sylvia Earle the greatest?

Elaine Magliaro said...


I think she's a great role model for girls and young women. Did you know that Bobbi Katz dedicated her poetry collection TRAILBLAZERS: POEMS OF EXPLORATION to Earle?

The poem about Earle begins:

"Her eyes might gaze
but not for her the lure of Mars.
She's challenged by another place, just as unknown as outer space."

The book also includes a short biography of Earle and the other explorers extolled in the collection.