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Deep blue sea

With activities such as beach trips, aquarium visits, and whale-watching on the agenda, summer is a great time for kids to learn more about our oceans, marine flora and fauna, and deep-water exploration. Here’s a handful of new nonfiction picture-book titles to get primary and early-intermediate readers’ feet wet.

Die-cuts serve both useful and playful purpose in Christy Hale’s Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World. With each clever page-turn, a pond becomes an island, a bay becomes a cape, a strait an isthmus, and so on; funny little human dramas reward close examination. A spectacular closing foldout with definitions of the geographic terms on one side and a global map on the other encourages readers to use the map to explore these land and water forms themselves. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 5–8 years)

Kate Messner’s The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs: The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation is an account of the threatened Florida Keys coral reefs and one man’s efforts to restore them to heath. Messner introduces longtime marine-life enthusiast Ken Nedimyer and his innovative solution to declining reef health: growing staghorn corals in “live rock” farms and transplanting them to dying natural reefs. Matthew Forsythe’s illustrations juxtapose kaleidoscopic color washes with dark and light foundational structures to capture details of the corals and their protectors. (Chronicle, 5–8 years)

Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere follows scientists Otis Barton and Will Beebe’s invention of the Bathysphere (a five-thousand-pound diving tank) and their historic 1930 journey into the deep ocean. Author Barb Rosenstock’s masterfully paced narrative of the tank’s first descent — to eight hundred feet — is thrilling. Katherine Roy’s dramatic watercolor depictions of the Bathysphere dwarfed in the deep by darkness and a wide array of sea creatures capture the heart-pounding emotion of the scientists’ dangerous journey. (Little, Brown, 6–9 years)

In Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible ALVIN by Michelle Cusolito, “you” are the pilot of Alvin—first launched in 1965 and still diving deep. A clear text evokes the nearly two-mile journey to the ocean floor, where you and the two scientists aboard “survey the site, confirm thriving life, and collect specimens.” Nicole Wong’s digital illustrations are both exact in their depiction of Alvin‘s wondrous mechanics and evocative in their survey of the seemingly otherworldly life deep in the sea. (Charlesbridge, 6–9 years)

From the July 2018 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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