Friday, May 4, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Book Review - Secrets of the Sea

Review of Secrets of the Sea, sea life, ocean creatures, plankton
Secrets of the Sea, October 3, 2017
written by Kate Baker
illustrated by Eleanor Taylor
Big Picture Press
96 pages, ages 8-12

I'm a little late on this one, as we did not get it in our library until February, and though it caught my eye immediately, I have not had a chance to sit down and write a review until now.

This is a large, beautiful coffee-table type book about sea life, that immediately brought to mind the previous year's Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohman. However, while both books cover things not often seen, this books focus on the small things, from microscopic plankton to tiny details or larval forms of larger creatures, brought to life with Eleanor Taylor's gorgeous mixed-media illustrations revealing minute details we would never be able to see in real life.

(click on any image to view full-size)

The book is organized by the zones of the ocean, starting with the shallows. There we see some familiar creatures, such as crabs, lobster, and sea stars along with some unfamiliar ones like the tiny daphnia, or water flea.

daphnae, daphnia, water flea

From there we head into the kelp forest that shelters many kinds of fish, as well as being home to sea urchins, nudibranch, and microscopic cyanobacteria and diatoms. Then the coral reef, where we find coral polyps, the pygmy seahorse, various zooplankton, giant clams, and more. After that, we head to the open sea, where we find the toxic Man-of-War and Blue Dragon, as well as the harmless moon jelly and "sea butterfly" snail pictured on the cover. Finally, we reach the deepest part of the ocean with it's most unusual and seldom seen creatures like the giant tube worms, bioluminescent jellies, squid, and octopus.


The full-page, full-color illustrations are accompanied by text that includes both the scientific and common names, size, and a description with interesting facts and significant characteristics. At the end of the book is a bibliography that includes print materials as well as several websites.


This book is intended for an older audience that Giant Squid, but I think younger kids would still enjoy looking at the pictures and having an adult tell them a little bit about them, though not the entire text. As a former microbiologist I really appreciate the inclusion of all the various microscopic plankton, larvae, and single-celled organisms, showing their intricate patterns and geometric shapes.

A really beautiful book that I encourage you to check out! (And if you haven't seen Giant Squid yet, be sure to check it out, too!)

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