Taking a trip to the beach this summer? These poetry and nonfiction picture books work swimmingly to teach children about ocean life.
David Elliott and Holly Meade’s In the Sea combines poetry and art to create memorable portraits of twenty different ocean creatures, including an octopus, golden starfish, moray eel, and blue whale. The tone of Elliott’s very short poems varies nicely, from lightly humorous to evocative and majestic, and Meade’s full-spread woodcut and watercolor illustrations are at once striking and simple. (3–6 years)
The creatures and allure of the sea are captured in Kate Coombs’s twenty-three poems and Meilo So’s splendid illustrations for Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems. Some of Coombs’s poems are comical while others are thoughtful. The ocean itself is the star of So’s beautiful art, whether in translucent underwater greens, intense blue against a dazzling white horizon, or simply as splashes of color and light. (5–8 years)
Dolphin Baby! is a lively story with scientific details about the developmental milestones in the first six months of a dolphin’s life. While Nicola Davies’s main narrative concentrates on one particular dolphin as he matures, smaller text on each spread provides more general information about the species. Brita Granström’s illustrations, set at various depths in the ocean, feature broad brushstrokes of every watery hue. (5–8 years)
Claire A. Nivola’s picture book biography Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle focuses on Earle’s intimate knowledge of the creatures she has spent over half a century observing. Accompanying the informative text are Nivola’s exquisitely detailed watercolor illustrations that are perfect for depicting the natural world. An author’s note explains why we all need to get involved in efforts to curtail the threats of overfishing, climate change, oil spills, and other pollutants. (5–8 years)