Monday, July 9, 2012
Nonfiction Monday: The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Willow Dawson
On the other hand, it starts out with and continues throughout the book with an endless series of warnings on the ocean's coming demise and destruction.
I'm not saying I disagree with these warnings - but I'm always leary of books for children that emphasize the coming destruction of the environment without concrete ways they can make a difference. I find it very odd that many parents and teachers are reluctant to talk to kids about big things like death, religion, or sexuality but have no problem handing over "the world is gonna be horribly destroyed in a few years" books.
Ahem. Anyways. After an introduction about the importance and plight of the ocean, the book continues into the sea, alternating between simple science experiments and information about the ocean. There are two sections near the beginning of things kids can do to help (kudos to the author for realizing that not everybody lives near public transportation or owns their own house!). Current events and the aftermath of disasters like the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill are highlighted in What's Happening Now sections. There are also features on The Ocean at Risk.
The science experiments, combined with information about life in the ocean, are the best features of this book. They use simple things you can find at the grocery store or in the kitchen and help demonstrate things like how blubber works, what happens when pollutants mix in the water, how fish use camouflage underwater, and how convection currents work.
I didn't care for Dawson's oddly retro illustrations - especially her odd people with pink circles on the cheeks - but there are also plenty of photographs to enjoy. The book has an index, but no source notes, bibliography, or further reading.
So, to sum up the pros and cons:
The Good: Lots of ocean facts, great experiments, general positive "things can be changed" attitude, simple ways kids can help, photographs.
The Bad: Ways to help stops early on in the book and there's nothing kids can do for many of the problems presented, no source notes or further reading, and I found the cover and illustrations unattractive.
ISBN: 9781554537464; Published April 2012 by Kids Can Press; Borrowed from the library