Thursday, April 12, 2012

Life in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola

On National Library Day (thanks to my good buddies at Lit for Kids for that amazing info!), I celebrate my local library for bringing me another amazing picture book. I love the book about Wangari Maathai, Planting the Trees of Kenya, so it is no surprise that this new read about the oceanographer Sylvia Earle wins my attention. But Nivola does one more thing in Life in the Ocean that caught me: she infuses Earle's current language and quotes into the book itself in a rather remarkable way.

This Sylvia Earle gal sounds amazing. I can well recall my own explorations out in nature growing up, and Nivola does a sweet job of connecting her reader's life experiences with Earle's. The way she starts the story with Earle's childhood invited me to look back gleefully-I loved exploring as a kid--but I can imagine young readers taking on the persona and experiential practices that the author writes of in this book. The illustrations draw readers in instantly. If you liked the illustrations in the Maathai book, you will love these drawings. The ocean is literally on the page, and it is easy to disappear into the details and imagine yourself swimming and observing right beside Earle.

But I loved the quotes from Earle the most. For instance, close to the end of the text, Nivola writes, "One expedition, 3,000 feet down, was, Sylvia says, like 'diving into a galaxy.'" Really. I am telling you, this is a keeper. I loved this book. The illustrations completely match the images in my head and extend them. The story captured me from the start. After I read this book, I wondered about my own love of science and couldn't help but consider what might have changed in my professional career if I had read this book and learned more about Sylvia Earle when I was young.

**Side note: I am still nudging Alysa. She has had a draft waiting for completion for a week but no luck yet. Fingers crossed....

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