________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 34 . . . . May 4, 2012


The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea.

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Willow Dawson.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
80 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-747-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-746-4 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Ocean-Juvenile literature.
Marine ecology-Juvenile literature.
Marine Pollution-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Suzanne Pierson.

***½ /4



Let There Be Life!

Boiling undersea vents are hot, to be sure. But they are also really cool! Some scientists now think that life on Earth may have started in them!

According to Gunter Wachtershauser, the scientist who first proposed the theory, the vents release an important group of chemicals. They can form compounds, like amino acids, that are basic to life.

Don't judge a book by its cover, especially this one. One person I showed this book to thought it was a primary book probably by Dr. Seuss. Another person couldn't understand why it was called The Big Green Book when it is clearly a big blue book.

      The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea is really a book about the ocean ecosystem written for the junior grades. If you or your students/children get past the cover, inside is a treasure trove of experiments and activities using everyday materials to explain some simple and some more complex scientific concepts. To quote the press release, "The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea is a sea-riously fun collection of simple safe science experiments and games illustrating the magnificence and vulnerability of our planet's oceans."

      The activities use common household items, as long as your house has some M&Ms, goldfish crackers, grapes, rice, masking tape, a bowl, a pencil, napkins, and a watch, for "How Many Is Too Many?" for example. The activities are presented step by step with questions to guide the learning.

Look inside the bowl. Is there less than three of any type of fish? If so, then that species has become "extinct" there aren't enough left to reproduce.

      Author Helaine Becker has created a fun, informative, reader friendly resource that should appeal to young scientists. Illustrated by Willow Dawson's coloured black-outline drawings, the book also includes a number of coloured photos of the ocean world.

      Readers can learn about the global warming, icebergs, ocean life, how pearls are made, tsunamis, and the great Pacific garbage patch, to name just a few of the interesting topics in this book. The table of contents is organized in three major headings: "Wet and Wild", "Fun With Fish", and "More Marine Marvels". There is an extensive index at the back of the book.

      In addition to the activities, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea also includes pages of information and sidebars that provide background information about the ocean, for example, the dangers of overfishing. Frequently, readers are reminded of things that they can do to reduce the problems that are being discussed.

      The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea ends with a call to action to the young readers with a topic titled, "The Ocean of the Future".

Much of what we learn in the future will come from you and people like you who care about our planet! So keep learning as much as you can, wherever you can. The ocean's well-being is in your hands, and in the hands of ordinary people everywhere who want to make a difference.

      This book will make a very good addition to your ocean science library. Readers will enjoy the hands on learning if you can get them past the cover.

Highly Recommended.

Suzanne Pierson is a retired teacher-librarian, currently instructing Librarianship courses at Queen's University in Kingston, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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