'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 11 November 2010

Review: Green Books Campaign: Into the Deep

Along with picture books, I'm quietly obsessed with information books. I love the fascinating compilation of facts and figures that seeps into the brain and makes good things happen in there.

And if this literary magic can do something profound to an adult, imagine what it can do to a child.

Into the Deep: life through the depths of the ocean is one such information book that had the synapses in my brain knitting together and creating new pathways to cleverness.
Oh how I love learning things I didn't know! And of course, teaching those very things to my kids.

This beautifully-produced book, printed on FSC-certified paper, is written by marine biologist Norman - a world expert on cephalopods (that's octopi, squid and cuttlefish - see, you do learn something new when you read books). So he kinda knows what he's talking about, which is good for an information book.

The book opens with some facts on the earth's oceans - did you know that more people have wandered around the moon than visited the deepest part of our oceans? Starting at the very surface of the ocean, we learn about the creatures that wriggle around in the sunlight - from gooseneck barnacles (these are odd-looking creatures!) to water striders, blue bottle jellyfish and sea lizards.

Then - we go down. Down down down - we begin our descent to plumb the depths of our planet's vast, watery basins. And you can feel things get darker and colder as we go. It's really quite extraordinary.

This is when you need to turn the book sideways. Down the left hand side of the page is a ruler measuring the depth, metre by metre. At 1 metre, we meet a sailfish (or marlin). At 2 metres, we meet a dolphinfish. At 4, a Barracouta, at 5... a blue shark.

At 7 metres, we meet the humpback whale then the sunfish, then down to 10 metres, it's the blanket octopus who swims into view.

At 16 metres, sea creatures begin to look odd. We meet the babies of some sea dwellers here - shrimp, a flatfish. Then we encouter snot. That's right - the consistency of many jellyfish is like that of snot - and these snotty creatures hover in the ocean at 20 to 60 metres below the surface - of all shapes and sizes.

And so we continue on - down down down - to the very depths of the ocean - to encounter a quite frightening array of monsters... let's just say it's a good thing it's so dark at 500m below sea level... the dragonfish, viperfish and fangtooth would surely die from fright if they saw themselves in a mirror.

Believe it or not - even further down - at 600 to 800 metres, we discover fish one often finds on their dinner table - the orange roughy and ox-eye Dory are just two. Now I know why these 'deep sea' fish are so darn expensive... they take some getting!

Into the Deep ends at 11km below sea level. That's right. 11km. And only two humans have ever been that deep into our oceans - way back in 1960. And what's down there? Sea cucumbers and giant tube worms can be found languising at this depth. As well as that pendant from the Titantic, most probably.

This book is a fascinating journey for young readers. Not only are we taken through the ocean by depth, the author has cleverly headed each double page spread with a title that further divides the creatures we encounter - such as Ocean Wanderers and Lots of Teeth (scary!). He also intersperses the pages with miniature bios on each critter, and snippets of fascinating information that help put the depth into perspective.

Stunning illustrations by David Paul on increasingly lustrous and dark pages make this as much as visual feast as it is a journey into the unknown. Take your kids on the dive of their life.

Goggles and fins optional.

Title: Into the Deep: life through the depths of the ocean
Author: Dr Mark Norman
Illustrator: David Paul
Publisher: Black Dog Books, A$16.99RRP
Publication Date: 2010
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9781742031514
For ages: 5+
Type: Information Book

This book is available online

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today, 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organised for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on 'green' books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.