Review of Great Carrier Reef

Great Carrier Reef Great Carrier Reef [Books for a Better Earth]
by Jessica Stremer; illus. by Gordy Wright
Primary    Holiday    40 pp.
7/23    9780823452682    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823455256    $11.99

In 1976, after approximately twenty-five years of service, the massive aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was decommissioned. Rather than being sold or relegated to retirement, “chained to a pier. Rusted, empty, and without purpose,” the “Mighty O” had a different future. Conservation scientists and Navy engineers converted it into an artificial reef, sinking it about twenty miles off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. The great strength of this account is that Stremer creates a dual focus. She first details the destruction of natural reefs and the benefits they provide for marine life. A full-bleed gouache and acrylic double-page spread shows the ocean floor teeming with life around a natural reef, contrasting with a subsequent reef-less scene devoid of fish and plants. Second, Stremer outlines the scientific planning involved in converting the massive ship into an artificial reef—including stripping the ship of copper (and selling that to help pay for the reconstruction) and removing paint toxic to the ocean environment until the ship is “nothing more than a shell of its former self.” Wright’s striking art outlines the entire process of the Mighty O’s makeover, as well as detailing a careful plan for sinking the ship in such a way that storms and tides would not alter its position. This clear, logical, and fascinating combination of natural and industrial science concludes with information about reefs and the Mighty O, a bibliography, and an index.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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