Publisher: Frances Foster Book, 2012
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 and up
Themes: Marine Biology, Women Explorers
Synopsis (from MacMillan website):
Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.
More on Sylvia Earle:
- National Geographic Kids has an informative, easy-to-read interview for kids.
- Biography summarizing her studies and research.
Craft: Create glow in the dark lanternfish sticks.
Videos and Photos:
Field Trip: Visit your local aquarium. I am lucky to be living next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is just fabulous. A must visit for anyone traveling to the San Francisco Bay area.
Why I Like this Book:
There are plenty of books on oceanography and explorers, but this book stole my heart with its soft-hued, detailed illustrations and easy-to-understand, inspiring text. Nivola documents Sylvia’s early childhood from growing up on the Gulf Coast, where Sylvia fell in love with the water, to the historic walk along the ocean floor. This book will make you fall in love with the ocean and its beautiful creatures, and inspire kids to follow their passions.
I love Nivola’s use of language. She just doesn’t tell the reader that Nivola grew up on a farm but makes you feel like you were really there, taking in the sights and smells. Poetic.
“living creatures in every inch of the nearby woods- in the farm’s pond, in its creek … Countless butterflies visited the flowers of the garden, and the fragrance of the lilac bushes”
Nivola is able to explain scenes in a way that kids can understand and even find riveting. Here she writes about a humpback whale.
“[whale] swam straight at her, like a freight train bearing down on a mouse. Moments before the collision”
I found it fascinating the way Nivola was able to incorporate phrases, that were quotations, into the text. Sometimes it seemed as if the quote may have been the inspiration for the paragraph and accompanying illustration.
I encourage you to check out the gorgeous illustrations from this book on the MacMillan website.
Julie from “Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast” said she would hand this book to an aspiring picture-book author and say “this is how a picture book biography is done.” I fully agree.
This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.