Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Covered With Life

When you stand on the shore of a large body of water, gazing across its expanse, something happens deep inside you.  Being in the presence of this greatness is humbling but soothing.  It helps you to realize as small as you may be, you are a part of something greater than your eyes can see.  This water spread before you is alive.  It sustains life on our planet.

We wade and swim in it.  We walk along its sandy or stony beaches looking for treasure.  If we are fortunate one of the creatures living in this water will reveal itself to us.  That's a memory to cherish.  Ocean! Waves For All (Henry Holt and Company, May 5, 2020) written by Stacy McAnulty with illustrations by David Litchfield is the latest entry in the Our Universe series.  Ocean has a lot to tell us, so let's listen and learn.

Dude, I am OCEAN.

You know my many names:
Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic,
Indian, Southern.
It's all excellent me.

Even though we've given Ocean many names, it is one large body of saltwater covering our entire planet.  Seventy-one percent of Earth is covered by Ocean.  Ocean represents no country but welcomes everyone.  Did you know Ocean is older than the air we breathe?  Ocean was here before any land masses.

First life, so tiny a human eye cannot see it, began in Ocean.  Today the largest animal on the planet lives in Ocean.  Do you know what it is?  Ocean is home to the largest landform found anywhere in the world.   Ocean is a super liquid highway, boasting ships numbering in the tens of thousands using it every day.

Like our atmosphere has layers, so does Ocean.  There's one named the Twilight Zone.  It is 656 to 3,281 feet deep.  The pull of the moon creates tides, high and low, on Ocean.

Ocean has several messages for us.  We need to get serious about exploring all Ocean has to offer.  Comparisons are made between how we've made more discoveries about Mars than we have about Ocean.  Ocean is disturbed about all the plastic pollution and the melting of glaciers.  Ocean's closing words are a hopeful request, and a reminder.

Readers will find themselves smiling at the first word, Dude.  Throughout the narrative, author Stacy McAnulty uses words from the 1980s heightening the entertaining delivery of the information Ocean tells us.  Each placement of these words is as natural as the voice using them.  The facts shared by Ocean (Stacy McAnulty) are exactly what we need to know, but they also invite us to further educate ourselves.  We learn history, world records, basic facts, the role of the ocean in our lives, the wonders to be found and a plea for protection.  This is all done in a highly engaging conversational style.  Here is a passage.

And more humans have visited
outer space than my deepest spots.
Awesome for outer space. Bummer for me.
Ninety percent of my waters are
completely dark, cold, and yet totally rad.

Come explore my secrets.

The beautiful underwater world seen on the front of the dust jacket continues on the other side of the spine when it is opened.  There the fish, and plants are darker and more pronounced than on the front.  On the back on the surface of the ocean, a cargo ship heads toward the left edge.  When we met Ocean on the front, he seems eager to see us.  His eyes and mouth indicate he can hardly wait to speak.  His hands beckon to us.

The image on the book case is a reverse of the introductory image when the narrative begins.  It's done in hues of blue, pink, and purple.  Ocean is waving to us with one hand and pointing to himself with the other hand.  Among the ocean plants is a turtle, a shark, several jellyfish, and schools of smaller fish.  Around Ocean's face the colors are lighter, but on the edges, they are darker, richer.

On the opening and closing endpapers we are treated to two different dazzling displays of the multitude of life to be found in the ocean.  On the closing endpapers we are much deeper in the ocean.  Divers are exploring the depths and the unusual creatures.

Artist, David Litchfield,

created with pencils, ink, watercolor paints, and digital art tools

the illustrations for this book.  They are a stunning array of double-page pictures, vertical panels, a book super-imposed on Ocean, and single-page images framed in white.  In all of them we see Ocean's eyes and mouth and usually his hands.  One time he is holding a magnifying glass.  The size of his face varies according to the illustrative interpretation of the text.  Readers will find themselves pausing at every page to savor the included details. It's fun to see which residents can be identified.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is when Ocean is reminding us of his importance.  He mentions his role in climate and his vital importance to all life.  In this double-page picture Ocean is spread across most of the two pages.  His face is on the left along with one of his hands.  Here icebergs are featured along the top with two whales.  On the bottom is a sandy beach with people enjoying the water.  As our eyes cross the gutter a thunderstorm rages on a portion of the top and a moon rises among stars on the far right.  Ocean's second hand seems to be holding up the thunder clouds with lightning zigzagging down and rain falling.  Along the shore here is a woodland scene with a male and female deer standing on the water's edge.

This book, Ocean! Waves For All written by Stacy McAnulty with illustrations by David Litchfield, is wonderful for the facts, the words used to inform readers and the images.  This book, like Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, Sun! One In A Billion and Moon! Earth's Best Friend, is upbeat, captivating, and inspiring.  At the close of the book Stacy McAnulty chats with readers, offers more items of information, challenges us, and provides sources.  You will want to add this title to your personal and professional collections.

To learn more about Stacy McAnulty and David Litchfield and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. David has interior images on his website.  Stacy McAnulty has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. David Litchfield has accounts on Facebook, InstagramTumblr and TwitterThis series has its own website.  Here is a link to activity kits from the publisher.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  You will really enjoy this conversation between the two creators.

Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the other titles selected this week for the 2020 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

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