The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs - The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs - The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation by Kate Messner
illustrated byMatthew Forsythe
Review Copy fromChronicle Books
Messner, a talented author of fiction and non-fiction for kids, begins her book, "It starts with one," as a single coral sits on the ocean floor, bathed in light. A page turn beautifully describes the spawning of a coral, with "millions of tiny lives," released until the "waters swirl like a snow globe." I was drawn to The Brilliant Deep immediately, having long been entranced by the beauty and lively ecosystem that exists on and around coral. However, if I wasn't already intrigued by coral, I definitely would be after Messner's first pages.
After drawing readers in, Messner introduces the subject of the book, young Ken Nedimyer. Growing up in Florida as the son of an engineer at NASA, Ken watched unmanned rockets, then men, travel into space. But, "Ken's dreams weren't in the stars. He loved the ocean." With Jacques Cousteau on the television and the Florida Keys in his backyard, Nedimyer's interest grew - as did his collection of specimens in his bedroom. However, Nedimyer also noticed that some of the coral reefs (and the creatures who lived on and around them) he loved were dying.

As an adult and owner of a live rock farm (those rocks covered with algae and tiny creatures that work as filters for waste in saltwater aquariums) Ken discovered staghorn corals growing on his rocks when a nearby colony spawned. Messner lets readers know that it is illegal to take coral from the ocean floor, but if it grows on a live rock farm, the owner is allowed to keep it. Instead of selling the specimens, Nedimyer and his daughter kept the coral and continued to grow it.

Next, they decided to see if the coral could be transplanted to a different colony and continue to grow. Today, the Coral Restoration Foundation, founded in 2007, has been "outplanting" and working to preserve endangered species of coral and are now sharing their ideas and techniques with other countries in an effort to save coral all over the world.

Messner ends The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs - The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation with information about the factors that could be causing the death of coral around the world and details on how kids can help. A lovely, illustrated coral reef vocabulary and photos of Ken and a thriving reef he helped restore close out the book. 
While researching for this review, I discovered that a resource I turn to daily while working with kids in my library (I have a flat screen tv and an Apple TV) is the phenomenal Great Big Story, created a video about Ken and his work. Great Big Story has been creating short (three to five minutes, mostly) videos with this purpose, taken from their mission statement. It's so well said I had to share it all. I hope you'll take a look at their stories and consider sharing them with the kids in your lives. It's a great way to travel the world and meet new people for free.

We believe there is magic in the world and it's our mission  in life to help you discover it. We search for stories showing a sense of optimism for the world because goodness can grow through the smallest cracks in the sidewalk. We pique curiosities that bring us closer together because we have more in common than we think. Through compassion, understanding and unique perspectives, we're united by common interest to enlighten, engage and entertain the global generation, no matter where they live or how they identify. Great Big Story is built upon the values of honesty, respect, curiosity and drive. This network is a creative standard, a new way to see the world. This is a Great Big Story.

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