Teeming with Life: Our Bountiful Oceans | New Books

The beauty—and fragility—of our oceans and the variety of life that they support are highlighted in these recently published, abundantly illustrated titles.

The beauty—and fragility—of our oceans and the variety of life that they support are highlighted in these recently published, abundantly illustrated titles.

redstar ANTINORI, Andrea. A Book About Whales. illus. by Andrea Antinori. 64p. Abrams. May 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419735028.
Gr 3-5–Whale lovers, rejoice! Antinori has composed a beautifully crafted, must-see book for baleinophiles of all ages. Originally published in Italian, it has been translated for an English-speaking audience. Unlike many nonfiction texts, this book presents information in the form of a conversation, answering questions that young readers are likely to have in a way that is accessible while still utilizing correct scientific terminology. Each page features intricate, hand-drawn illustrations of whales and other sea creatures accompanied by select text that, though brief, amplifies readers’ understanding of these giants of the sea. From what whales eat to the size of their “blow” to how to tell them apart from one another, a vast array of facts are tidily placed on each page. In addition to the well-crafted text and imagery, the book itself is a delight to hold. A hefty volume, slightly oversized in length and width, the book feels as robust as its content. The matte finish of the dust jacket and thick pages add to its prestigious impression. Overall, this book is well constructed and will stand the test of time. VERDICT Whale lovers will not be able to get enough of this text in one reading. A high-class addition to any elementary school nonfiction library.–Mary Lanni, Denver Public Library

BRUNELLIÈRE, Lucie. Deep in the Ocean. illus. by Lucie Brunellière. 14p. Abrams. May 2019. Board $15.99. ISBN 9781419733567.
PreS-K–Splash down! In this narrative, a little silver submarine maneuvers past masses of busy waterfowl and sea life to plunge from lighted surface to deep darkness, calm to stormy conditions, and from one underwater environment to another. This large board book will delight the preschool and kindergarten crowd, especially those intrigued by nonfiction. They can follow the progress of the sub, identify the brightly colored ocean denizens, and wonder on the penultimate page, “Will the sub escape from the blue whale’s underbelly?” Yes! The conversational text melds with the illustrations leading readers to want more. This is a 2017 French import and a 2019 English translation. VERDICT This title is extremely satisfying for the young reader that favors nonfiction. A board book must-have.–Nancy Call, formerly at Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

CRAMP, Jessica, Grace Hill Smith, & Joe Levit. Captain Aquatica’s Awesome Ocean. 128p. (Science Superheroes).glossary. index. maps. photos. resources. National Geographic Kids. Jun. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781426332920.
Gr 3-6–The third installment in this series gives readers a mash-up of a textbook and graphic novel that focuses on the ocean and its wildlife. Cramp introduces readers to the Cook Islands, where sharks can easily be found. To understand sharks, though, readers must first understand the ocean, ecosystems, and how humans have affected the sea. The book concludes with how readers can help preserve, protect, and advocate to keep the ocean clean and wildlife safe. Before each chapter of informational text is a snapshot of Captain Aquatica and her friend, Finn, the hammerhead shark, showing readers the secrets and adventures of the ocean in cartoon graphics. The colorful, high-resolution photographs pair nicely with the comic sections, complementing the ocean design that frames each page in blues and purples representing the surface and the bottom of the sea. The text also includes photo captions, diverse scientist profiles, interesting facts, and fun science activities. The table of contents and introduction bookend with the back matter, which contains an afterword, glossary, index, image credits, resources, and acknowledgments (called “credits” in the table of contents). Although the amount of information and the textbook style could be intimidating to young readers, the book can suit a wide range of audiences. VERDICT Readers obsessed with sharks and marine wildlife will especially enjoy reading with Captain Aquatica. Teachers and librarians may want to create lessons or programs based on the activities presented throughout the book.–Hilary Tufo, Columbus Metropolitan Library-Reynoldsburg

ERICKSON, Paul. Don’t Mess with Me: The Strange Lives of Venomous Sea Creatures. photos by Andrew Martinez. 48p. (How Nature Works). chron. further reading. glossary. Tilbury House. Dec. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780884485513.
Gr 3-6–Ewww! Erickson’s friendly, informative overview of venomous sea creatures, accompanied by Martinez’s vivid close-ups leans heavily on the ick factor. Readers will learn about common creatures from all six phyla: protective mechanisms, scientific name, size, range, and diet. The author makes references to author Arthur Conan Doyle and venom researcher Baldamero Olivera and briefly touches on the problem of invasive species. He does not, however, discuss the effect of global climate change and warming seas—not even noting the danger of jellyfish blooms. Students seeking in-depth information on this and other topics can use the book’s bibliography, which lists several reliable sources. VERDICT An eye-catching and pleasingly gross introduction to venomous sea creatures, with extremely helpful back matter.–Sheri Reda, Wilmette Public Library, IL

KARPIK, Joanasie. Bowhead Whale. illus. by Sho Uehara. 28p. (Animals Illustrated). Inhabit Media. Feb. 2018. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781772271621.
Gr 2-4–A simple, beautifully illustrated addition to the series. This book provides a basic introduction to the physiology, life cycle, diet, habits, and significance of these giant beasts. In short, manageable chapters, Karpik details what makes bowhead whales so magnificent, from their status as the second largest animal on the planet to their ability to break thick arctic sea ice to make breathing holes. Karpik also provides a glimpse of the relationship between the Inuit and bowheads, including some traditional uses of bowhead bones and skin. Uehara’s artwork is suffused with a palette of blues and grays and includes a full-spread diagram of a bowhead skeleton. Though the book is appealing and informative, it is rather slight and will likely have to be supplemented with more information. VERDICT A fine addition to nonfiction chapter book collections.–Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library

PAUL, Michael. Chomp: A Shark Romp. illus. by Michael Paul. 40p. Crown. Apr. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781524767020.
PreS-Gr 2–From gentle giants to fierce hunters, sharks vary in size, color, appetite, and habitat, making the underwater dwellers distinct in each depiction. As readers swim alongside each shark illustrated, they will learn that many sharks have unique personalities and habits, making it safer to see them from afar in an aquarium than in the wild. The text within the nonfiction narrative is uncomplicated, leaving room for children to absorb the labeled illustrations that are simultaneously simple and realistic. Although Paul implies we should not swim with sharks, kids can visit many of them at aquariums. Paul also offers a picture glossary in both the front and back of the book. Fans of his Roar: A Dinosaur Tour and the “Baby Shark” song will enjoy learning about the sharks that live under the ocean’s surface. VERDICT A strong choice for early elementary nonfiction shelves and a vibrant exploration of ­different types of sharks.–Hilary Tufo, Columbus ­Metropolitan Library-Reynoldsburg

PRINGLE, Laurence. Dolphins! illus. by Meryl Henderson. 32p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. websites. Boyds Mills. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629796802.
Gr 3-5–This superb book focuses on the dolphin—hunting, communication, intelligence, and more. Readers will also learn about the differences between dolphins and porpoises and find out what we still don’t know about these creatures. Pringle skillfully introduces vocabulary and occasionally directs readers to focus on selected illustrations or a sentence mentioned earlier. Henderson’s paintings clarify and extend the text; a labeled image of a dolphin explains how the creature uses its various body parts; an illustration of the interior of the animal’s head sheds further light on echolocation. VERDICT Useful for readers interested in wildlife and as a mentor text for young writers.–Myra ­Zarnowski, City University of New York

redstar SAFINA, Carl. Beyond Words: What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel. 176p. bibliog. index. photos. Roaring Brook. Apr. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250144638.
Gr 4-9–In this young readers adaptation of the author’s 2015 book, Safina contemplates the inner life of the largest land mammal, the elephant, and the largest dolphin, the orca. He writes of his travels to Kenya to observe elephants and interview scientists and conservationists who study them and attempt to protect them. After an interlude connecting the two species, he relates his travels to the Pacific Northwest, where he spent time with Ken Balcomb, who for 40 years has studied orcas. In beautiful, accessible, often heartbreakingly poignant prose, the author explains how many have proven, anecdotally and scientifically, that animals exhibit complex emotions and thought processes. Both elephants and orcas have strong and complicated family bonds and experience joy and grief. Safina also hammers home the real threat that the animals, especially elephants, face—poachers and habitat loss for elephants and food source loss for orcas. This well-researched volume contains many black-and-white photos, 10 pages of source notes, and a thorough bibliography. VERDICT This excellent, documentary-style account will captivate budding animal behavioral scientists.–Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ

STEWART, Melissa. Seashells: More Than a Home. illus. by Sarah S. Brannen. 32p. Charlesbridge. Apr. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580898102.
K-Gr 4–A well-researched addition to the ocean biome canon, Seashells is unique in that it pairs form with function. Both the text and illustrations present information that is easy to digest and understand. Introducing the concept that seashells come in various shapes and colors due to their different jobs, the author and illustrator then launch into examples such as the scallops that can flit like a butterfly. This is paired with an illustration of a butterfly, a diagram of a shell and how its movement mirrors a butterfly, the shell in its environment, and corresponding text. The language is not too informational or too ­poetic; it is just the right amount of colorful and interesting. An appendix of sorts and additional resources are included. VERDICT A delightful addition to an elementary library’s nonfiction collection.–Amanda C. ­Buschmann, Carroll Elementary School, Houston

TECKENTRUP, Britta. Fish Everywhere. illus. by Britta Teckentrup. 32p. Candlewick/Big Picture. May 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536206258.
Gr 1-4–Author and illustrator Teckentrup takes on fish in her latest endeavor. Topics are explained in simple, relatable language limited to page spreads. The book looks at body structure, the evolution of fish, geographic location, feeding habits, survival adaptation, breeding, and their relationship with people. Three spreads are displayed vertically. Color blocks on the page help readers transition between subjects. To make the reading even more enjoyable, questions acting as guessing games are sprinkled throughout, such as a quest to spot all the Atlantic cod in one picture. While important words are in bold, there is no glossary. The lack of a table of contents, back matter, or resources to consult for further study also signal that this book is not for hard-hitting research. Some information is misleading in its tendency to lean toward the whimsical. For example, the adult ocean sunfish is listed as weighing up to 5,100 pounds (on average, the ocean sunfish is 2,200 pounds). Some of the body parts in the diagram are sweeps of color; the liver is a perfect circle. VERDICT If readers usually swoon over Teckentrup’s fabulous illustrations, this book won’t disappoint.–Elissa Cooper, Helen Plum Memorial Lib., Lombard, IL

WILLIAMS, Brenda. Home for a Penguin, Home for a Whale. illus. by Annalisa Beghelli. 32p. Barefoot. Mar. 2019. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781782857440.
PreS-Gr 2–With lyrical rhymes and adorable illustrations, this book walks readers through a dazzling underwater menagerie. Each rhyming couplet gives a factoid about one of the 23 marine creatures featured in this picture book. End pages dive into more detail about each of the sea creatures and discuss different ocean habitats, oceans around the world, how the ocean is impacted by climate change and pollution, and some things that everyone can do to support ocean conservation. This book is sure to delight children with its whimsical illustrations and fact-filled verses. The author uses a nice balance of familiar language and less common words, which creates a perfect opportunity to introduce new vocabulary to young children in a way that they can easily understand. The illustrator’s use of color and shading adds depth and dimension to each page. Younger children will enjoy the story in verse, while older children will likely enjoy diving into the more in-depth back matter. As an added bonus, children will enjoy searching for the tiny sea snail hidden on each page. VERDICT Whether shared as a fun read-aloud or given to emerging readers, this title would make a nice addition to most collections or offer support to curriculum about the ocean and its creatures.–Kristin Williamson, Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma

YOUNG, Karen Romano. Shark Quest: Protecting the Ocean’s Top Predators. 128p. bibliog. diag. further reading. illus. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Twenty-First Century. Sept. 2018. Tr $37.32. ISBN 9781512498059.
Gr 6 Up–Young begins by dispelling myths about sharks that have proliferated in the media and popular culture. Chapters such as “What’s a Shark?” and “Shark Sex” are quick reads and will dispel the creatures’ reputations as terrors of the oceans, while also easily engaging readers. Further discussion about ichthyologists, scientists who study fish, and their research in and out of the water follows. Young also provides a balanced discussion about the pros and cons of having sharks in captivity. Ways in which scientists identify and track sharks—GoPro-style cameras called Crittercams, and smartphone apps—will fascinate readers. Shark populations are endangered due in large part to human impact, specifically fishing and finning, and information about how teens can act as advocates and conservationists is provided. A guide at the end presents biological classifications, complete with scientific names, images, and brief information about eight identified orders of sharks. VERDICT A must-purchase for libraries with fans of Shark Week.–Erica Thorsen, Albemarle High School, VA

ZOMMER, Yuval. The Big Book of the Blue. illus. by Yuval Zommer. 64p. index. Thames & Hudson. Jun. 2018. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780500651193.
Gr 2-5–This cerulean-filled work is overflowing with oceanographic details and information. Readers can learn about 20 different sea creatures from the well-known octopus to the lesser-known dragonet. The book also includes general information on sea animals as well as basic conservation. There are plenty of facts, but the narrative remains at the surface level on most subjects. The whimsical illustrations create an aura of a busy ocean and will give readers a lot to discover on every page. Zommer has even included a few hide-and-seek puzzles throughout. Instead of a glossary, there is a page of “fishy phrases” where readers can learn about a few specific words or phrases that relate to ocean life. However, these words aren’t highlighted in any way in the actual text. VERDICT This is not an ideal book for research, but purchase where browsable ocean-focused volumes are in demand.–V. Lynn Christiansen, Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary School, Raleigh, NC

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