The Ocean Story

July 6, 2011

The Ocean Story

By John Seven

Illustrated by Jana Christy

Picture Window Books, Capstone, 2011

ISBN # 9781404867857

Picture book with facts

Grades K-2

“Why is the ocean so very big?”

“It need to be big to hold a story that is so very old.”

The Ocean Story relates the events occurring in the ocean told by an adult to a young child. In lovely, spare language, the water cycle, the creatures in the ocean, and the problems affecting its waters are presented in a straightforward style that young children can easily understand. It’s a simple explanation for these concepts and perfect for an introduction to all the aspects of the oceans in today’s world.

The art is appealing and child-friendly. The more unusual creatures are named in the art and some of them are presented with the sounds they make. The art highlights the problems that take place, including oil spills, while presenting a beautiful palette of colors that show the story as it unfolds.

The book ends with the idea that the earth and oceans are part of one another, and we must do our part to keep the ocean story alive.

Activity 1

Look up one of the animals shown in the art. Find out where the animal lives in the ocean, such as deep water, tide pool, coral reef, estuary, or shallow water. Chose some interesting facts and report on that animal.

Look for animal information at National Geographic site.

This site has information about the ocean ecosystems.

Find more information about the ecosystems here.

NASA has marine animal facts

Activity 2

Find information about the different zones of the ocean. Draw and label the different zones. Include some animals in the picture.

This site has ocean zone information.

The Living Sea has ocean zone information and a good diagram.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment

Book provided by publisher

The Green Mother Goose

April 27, 2011

The Green Mother Goose

By Jan Peck and David Davis

Illustrated by Carin Berger

Sterling Publishing; Sterling Children’s Books, 2011

ISBN #978-1-4027-6525-4

Picture book

Besides The Green Mother Goose, Jan Peck and David Davis are the authors of many other books for children. I’ve seen their terrific school visit program, too, and it’s a fun one.

“Together we’ll do it—

We’ll help save the Earth,

Our emerald home,

The place of our birth.

Come now, rhyme with me,

Let’s turn our hearts loose,

And fly ‘round the world

With Green Mother Goose.”

This clever, creative book takes a look at classic nursery rhymes and makes them “green.” The suggestions in each rhyme explain or provide ways that everyone can help improve the Earth. Rather than preaching about saving the Earth, the information is available for the taking in a fun-filled, short rhyme that will stay with you. Authors Peck and Davis surely had great fun matching rhymes with green ideas.

The Green Mother Goose is a great book to open dialogue with kids about the Earth, recycling, and what they can do on their own. The rhymes cover the simplest steps, like recycling, to the more complex additions of windmills and solar panel additions. It also opens the discussion of new vocabulary, for the book is rich in terms related to helping the environment.

The whimsical appeal of the art serves to focus and expand on the ideas behind the writing and sets a perfect tone for the book. The cut paper collage comes from “found papers and ephemera.” The book is produced with a “practice what you preach” style mentioned on the credits page.

The Green Mother Goose lends itself to a unit for Earth Day, reading, units on the environment, recycling, story time, and introducing the National Science Standards about organisms and their environments and changes in environments. It would make a fun poetry memorizing unit and a wonderful Reader’s Theater production. I can also see it in a PTA program and school wide presentation produced by the students—especially for Earth Day activities.

It’s delightful to pick up a book and really love it. This is one of those books. It would be an excellent lesson if paired with the original Mother Goose nursery rhymes. What a fun discussion!

 Activity 1

Choose one of the rhymes from the book. Identify the environmental concept from the new rhyme and research it to find more information. Write a paragraph explaining the problem and suggest some ways to help.

Activity 2

Make a list of activities mentioned in the book to help save the Earth. Create a poster suggesting things kids can do to help the environment and Earth. Decorate the poster with cut paper collage similar to the art in the book.

Saving the Earth suggestions

Activities to help

National Geographic’s green tips

National Science Standards: organisms and the environment; changes in environments

Book from my own autographed library collection. Jan and David signed it at TLA!

At the Sea Floor Cafe

April 12, 2011

Peachtree is having a two week blog tour. Be sure to check out their blog.

TLA was such a great place to be last week. It was good to see many friends and make new ones. I signed books and spent some time with the terrific Peachtree people. The Austin SCBWI did a great job. The sourcebook was exceptional.

I met Lesley Bulion. We chatted and she signed my copy of her book. Talented and genuine–just like the book!

At the Sea Floor Café

Odd Ocean Critter Poems

By Leslie Bulion

Illustrated by Leslie Evans

Peachtree, 2011 

ISBN #978-1-56145-565-2

Ages 8-12

Nonfiction; poems

“Let’s visit a habitat shallow and deep,

And boiling hot, where acids seep,

And frigid and pressured and mountainy-steep,

Come explore the sea!

So begins the poem invitation to Dive In! and explore the vast sea and the unusual creatures living there. Each poem provides facts about ocean animals in a variety of poetic styles and forms. A smaller inset section gives an explanation of the animal and its habits expressed in the poem. The extensive back matter explains the poem’s form and specifics about that style of poem. It also includes a glossary of science terms, websites, and other books to enjoy. An acknowledgment page attests to the author’s research.

The art is lovely and evokes the fun nature of the poems in the book without being intrusive. It’s done in linoleum block print and perfectly suits the whimsy of the poetry it illustrates. This is a fun way to introduce science into literature and involve readers in the awe of science through the odd, interesting life forms in a time when science is more important than ever.

This book would make a wonderful reader’s theater or group presentation. There’s a poem for every child and the science details are a fun addition. It’s a great choice for libraries, schools, or home. What a joyous combination: poetry and science.

Activity 1

Research one of the animals from the book. Write a report about that animal. Include the facts from the poem and add any new information you’ve learned from the research. Present the information in an interesting way.

Enchanted Learning has ocean animals here.

National Geographic Kids has some ocean animals

Activity 2

Choose a favorite or well-known sea animal and write a poem about it in one of the poetry styles from the book. Illustrate your own poem.

I’ve also written a number of teacher guides for other Peachtree nonfiction. See those here.

National Science Standard: characteristics of organisms; organisms and their environment

Book provided by Peachtree Publishers for their Blog Tour

Journey into the Deep

January 5, 2011

Journey into the Deep

Discovering New Ocean Creatures

By Rebecca L. Johnson

Millbrook Press, 2011

Series: Exceptional Science Titles for Intermediate Grades

ISBN-13: 978-0-7613-4148-2

Grades 4-8


This is an Orbis Pictus honor book!

Happy New Year! I’m kicking off this year with a new 2011 book that I loved. Thank you all for joining me as I begin my third year of blogging about books and science.

“Like a spaceship from a distant galaxy, the massive jellyfish hovers in the frigid water. Its meaty dome-shaped bell is as wide as a doorway and the color of a bad bruise. Beneath the bell, fleshy arms twist and sway. The bell contracts and the jellyfish glides backward. It relaxes, then contracts again. Contract, glide, relax. Contract, glide, relax. With a steady rhythm, the jellyfish pulses through the utter darkness of the deep sea.”

The deepest part of the sea is one of the last frontiers, and Journey into the Deep takes the reader to the depths of that frontier. You’ll see previously unknown species of life in close-up photographs and read about them in detail as you travel in the “living minestrone” and learn of the myriad life forms science is just beginning to find in the world cooperative Census of Marine Life.

Graphics mix well with sharp, close-up photographs of astonishing animal life amid the variety of ocean habitats. Sidebars give additional information relating to the study of science and the life depicted within the text. Detailed captions provide extra information to accompany the fascinating array of life forms.

This visually stunning book is informative and would fit well into upper elementary and middle school libraries. With the vast amount of scientific information appearing, this book is an excellent way to stay abreast of the latest research and findings. I read every bit of the text and reveled in the discoveries so beautifully documented on each spread.

Activity 1

Trace a food chain or web around one of the deep sea hydrothermal vents. Identify the adaptations each life form has that allow them to live within such a harsh environment.

See additional information about deep sea hydrothermal vents here.

More information about vents.

Activity 2

Define and explain chemosynthesis. Then compare it to photosynthesis.

This site gives information about chemosynthesis and hydrothermal vents.

Learn more about the whale decomposition studies being carried out at the University of Hawaii.

 Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has an excellent review of this book, too.

National science standard: Populations and ecosystems; diversity and adaptations of organisms; structure and function of living organisms

Book provided by publisher.


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