A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton, 108 pp, RL 3
A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies,
illustrated by Emily Sutton
Review Copy from Candlewick Press
A fantastic author of fiction, non-fiction and poetry for kids, Davies, a zoologist, shines when she takes on the natural world as her subject. Joining Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature and Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals, A First Book of the Sea is a superbly illustrated collection of poems that are sure to transport. Divided into four sections, each of which is introduced with a poem: Down by the Shore, Journeys, Under the Sea and Wonders, Davies drives you to the shore, walks you along the edge of the waves then boards you on a ship before diving down to the bottom of the sea.
Down by the shore readers build sandcastles, catch a waves and find shells with the setting shifting between a busy city harbor in one part of the world and a quiet beach in another part where a man uses a net to fish for his dinner. Journeys take readers out on the sea where the poem, "Blue Whale's Map," follows the migration path of this noble creature. In the final section of the book, a four-page gatefold spread opens to reveal a poem about the song of the humpback with instructions on how to sing like one! Appropriately, the two page spread that opens to reveal the humpback has a poem about plankton, which cover the page.
Davies writes about the creatures of the sea as well as human ventures on and under the sea. There are poems about Lord Beaufort's Scale that tells sailors when it's safe to sail, learning to navigate by the stars, and people who live on the sea. Davies also writes about longline fishing and bottom trawling (which leaves a "dead and empty wasteland / where plastic bottle sink into the mud") and one chilling poem, "Deadliest of All?" about the damage and danger the plastic we dump into the ocean poses to the creatures that live there.
A First Book of the Sea is one that you will read again and again, there is so much to explore and discover. I'll leave you with one of my favorite poems and the introduction to the final section of the book.
Mother Sea Otter
Round she rolls her bobbing baby,
wrapping him in seaweed strands
to keep him anchored while she dives
for abalones, urchins, clams.
You might never swim with a manta ray
or watch penguins leaping between Antarctic
ice floes. But the sea-worn pebble in your pocket
reminds you that these magical things
are out there, somewhere on our beautiful
blue planet . . . perhaps waiting just
over the horizon.