People across the globe are in love with the deep blue sea…or at least they will be, as soon as they browse through the pages of National Geographic Kids’ latest picture book, Ocean Animals: Who’s Who in the Deep Blue, by author Johnna Rizzo.
The first thing readers will notice is a shy little Nemo look-alike ( orange clownfish ) and an imposing, hypnotically-blue Dory look-alike (blue tang fish) swimming peacefully in the deep, blue water splashed across the oversized cover. Once inside, readers, oceanographers and down-home picture book lovers can feast their eyes on all sorts of amazing scenes, like unassuming turtles minding their own business as they skim through the sea, sea anemone swaying in time with the gentle waves, and even shocking lionfish spreading their watery feathers and warning predators not to mess with them if they know what’s good for them.
There is an interesting and educational explanation of the layers of life (P. 10) – the sunlight zone, the twilight zone, and the midnight zone; a lovely display of the “rainbow of reef life” (angelfish, clownfish and parrotfish, p. 20-21); and up-close and personal views of living, breathing coral reefs and the ocean life that frolics and feeds among it (P. 12-13). There are oddities like the male seahorse giving birth to its baby (p. 24); the sea dragon, that looks much like a soggy leaf floating through the sea (p. 25); and sea stars that look like colorful silly-putty lying about on the bottom of the sea.
Budding oceanographers can learn about ocean extremes (P. 32-33), hammerhead sharks (p. 43), various types of squid and octopuses (p. 34-35); and sea otters and their excellent table manners (p. 50). There are close-ups of whales and dolphins (p. 62), and eye-popping sections on marine reptiles like the sea turtle and its brave march from its sandy nest to the roaring sea (p. 80-81); and marine iguanas (p. 83), saltwater crocodiles, menacing alligators (p. 84-85); and everybody’s favorite, the hardy penguin (p. 86-89).
This lovely educational book absolutely has it all. The table of contents is categorized to make finding things much easier, beginning with understanding the oceans of the world and the layers of life, then offering separate chapters on sea inhabitants (sharks, rays, whales, dolphins and marine birds). There’s a helpful glossary, a detailed index to find things faster, and twenty tips on ways you can help protect the ocean.
The book targets the middle grades (ages 8 to 12), but this is another one of those versatile books that can keep picture book lovers of all ages occupied. In fact, the pictures are so lovely that we are giving it the Picture Book Depot Outstanding Illustration Award. Congratulations!
The text is age-appropriate (though children younger than eight will definitely need help with it), and the pictures are everything a picture book lover ever dreamed of. Use this one in science, social studies (especially during conversations about community), ecology, and as supplemental reading for Nemo and Dory lovers everywhere.
Best wishes and happy oceans,