Saturday, May 4, 2013

Under the Sea...Under the Sea... (cue jaunty Carribean music sung by an animated crab)

Inspired by a poetry book we found at IRA (Was that already two weeks ago?!), we're going to highlight some wonderfully diverse ocean-themed books.

First on the list is At the Sea Floor Cafe: Odd Ocean Critter Poems, by Leslie Bulion. To be honest, Kristin found the OSTB Award winning book tucked away in a little corner of the Peachtree Publishers booth at IRA in San Antonio, but I grabbed what turned out to be the last available copy. (I felt a little guilty...but not enough to hand it over to her. I did promise to share, though!)  This little gem is masterfully crafted with both a poem and an informational paragraph about a sea creature on each page. As kids read about snapping shrimp and Osedax worms (among others), they will be amazed at the way Bulion, who holds a graduate degree in oceanography among other things, artfully integrates key content into her poems. Her poems could serve as great models for succinctly summarizing information in a creative way--one which might even be used to assess science content knowledge in format other than a multiple choice test!  In addition, the book has both a glossary and a poetry notes section, where the author provides a description of the forms she used for each poem. The only thing we would caution you about in regard to this book is the relatively tiny print and the deceptively simple text. This book is really most appropriate for upper elementary and beyond.

However, if you want a great ocean related poetry-esque book for the primary grades, look to Madeleine Dunphy's Here is the Coral Reef, which was an OSTB winner in 2008. Written in the style of  the traditional poem "The House that Jack Built," this book starts off with one sentence, "Here is the coral reef," accompanied by a more than full-page color illustration of a reef. Each two-page spread builds from there with the next bit of text reading,

"Here is the coral
of all colors and shapes
that lives in the clear waters
in this vivid seascape:
Here is the coral reef."

The information contained throughout is related directly to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, as explained in a short bit of informational text on the final pages of the book. This information is accompanied by black and white labeled sketches of the animals mentioned throughout the poem. 

Finally, we want to share a third book that takes a different stance on life in the sea, Project Seahorse, by Pamela S. Turner. This book, from Houghton Mifflin's Scientists in the Field series, highlights how villagers and scientists came together as a community to restore the damaged coral reef which the declining seahorse population called home. This dense book is not intended to be a read aloud, though a teacher could certainly share parts with a class. However, upper grades students who are interested in conservation, ocean life, becoming a scientist, coral reefs, or even just seahorses, will love diving into this book. Replete with resources, a glossary, and, in what might be loosely called an acrostic poem, a guide to helping the seahorse, this book has tons of interesting science content and beautiful photographs.

1 comment:

  1. A little late, but I just caught your lovely review. Thank you! And thanks for pairing me with such wonderful ocean-themed books and authors!