FEATURED: Water / Oceans

  Adelina's Whales

by Richard Sobol

HARDCOVER
Animals : Mammals
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

This is a beautiful photo-essay by Richard Sobol about a 10 year old girl living in the remote fishing village of La Laguna in Baja, Mexico near a lagoon that is a gray whale nursery. Every year Adelina Mayoral eagerly awaits the arrival of her special friends, the gray whales that travel from their northern feeding grounds, as far away as Alaska and Russia, across the Pacific to this protected lagoon to give birth and raise their calves until the spring when they once again head north. The text and stunning photography, that show the close encounters and rapport of humans and whales, also offer an insight into Adelina’s daily life and the world of these unique mammals. In the "Foreword" Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. describes his visit to Laguna San Ignacio and how Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) succeeded in 1997 in saving this pristine lagoon from industrial development and keeping this area as a gray whale nursery.

For more information, visit: www.savebiogems.org/baja/

      Grades: 2nd to 5th

  Alejandro's Gift

by Richard E. Albert

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

Having planted a vegetable garden near his isolated desert home, the elderly Alejandro notices the small desert animals who come to drink Water and Ocean Habitats in the furrows. Although the visit of these desert animals fills his loneliness, he thinks of the other larger desert animals. When he painstakingly builds a sheltered Water and Ocean Habitats hole further from his house as a gift to his desert friends, he is rewarded by the sounds of the animals that come to drink at the oasis. Beautifully illustrated with detailed Water and Ocean Habitatscolors of the desert landscape, flora and fauna, this book portrays an inspiring and moving response to one's natural surroundings. A glossary of desert animals complements the story.

Reviewed in Nature's Course (March/April 1997) published by CCEL.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Big Blue

by Shelley Gill

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Mammals

During a trip with marine biologists to Baja, Mexico, a young girl’s dream of swimming alongside a blue whale is finally realized. This picture book integrates scientific information with imagery and narrative from the perspective of the young girl in having her wish come true by her fascinating underwater encounter with the largest animal on our planet.

See also: Melissa Kim’s The Blue Whale, an informative book which explores the plight of blue whales as well as other endangered whale species that have been drastically overhunted to the point of near extinction.

        Grades: 1st to 3rd

  Cloud Dance

by Thomas Locker

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Water & Its Cycle 

The luminous oil paintings and simple, lyrical text of Locker's Cloud Dance evoke the natural beauty of clouds as they "drift and dance across the sky" over rustic landscape settings, changing color, shape and size during different times of the day and seasons. Factual information about the formation and types of clouds is found in the Endnotes.

        Grades: Preschool to 5th

  Come Back, Salmon

by Molly Cone

PAPERBACK
Animals : Fish
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

The engrossing, true story of the relentless determination of the school children at Jackson Elementary in Everett, Washington to reclaim the polluted stream of Pigeon Creek as a salmon spawning ground is presented through interviews and full-color photographs of the children and teachers working at their project. Supplementary scientific information about the life cycle of salmon is included in panels beside the main text.

Reviewed in Nature's Course (September/October 1993) published by CCEL.

        Grades: 2nd to 6th

  A Cool Drink of Water

by Barbara Kerley

PAPERBACK
Water & Its Cycle
Environmental Themes  : Pollution & Sustainability

Published by the National Geographic Society, A Cool Drink of Water, circles the globe through stunning photography, catching breathtaking imagery of people and animals collecting and drinking water. From solitary hikers pausing to drink in the mountains and canyons of Western North America to an old farmer in the Irish countryside drawing fresh water from a well for himself and his cows, from the stately black figures of women carrying stacks of brass water pots in India to children in Nepal filling a jug of water with rainwater dripping from a roof -- the images resonate the unifying, common need of all of life for this vital resource. Though the text is minimal, focusing readers instead on the stunning visual imagery, a map and the captioned spread of thumbnail copies of the photos in the back of the book explain how various cultures use and conserve water. "A Note on Water Conservation" emphasizes the limited amount of fresh, clean water available to life and the importance of protecting the water supply so as to ensure "that now and in the future everyone, everywhere can always enjoy a cool drink of water."

        Grades: Preschool to 2nd

  Disappearing Lake : Nature's Magic in Denali National Park

by Debbie S. Miller

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

The beauty of the cyclic change of a vernal lake in Alaska, Disappearing Lake, provides the poetic setting for the change of the seasons, animals and vegetation of this unique ecosystem throughout one year. The melting snows of winter flood a meadow and life awakens in and around the lake with birds, insects, plants, hatching shrimp, beavers, moose and wolves. As the days grow warmer and the lake begins to disappear, plants that sprout from the moist soil to feed the migrating caribou later grow into a meadow to harbor and nourish other life forms. With the ending of fall, as the Northern Lights appear the meadow lies beneath the snows of winter.

The text along with the "Field Notes" about the ecosystem broaden the knowledge of natural life cycles for young readers. Colorful illustrations by Jon Van Zyle portraying the magnificent natural landscape with its inhabitants complement the descriptions of the continuous transformations around the vernal lake.

        Grades: 1st to 5th

  Dive!: My Adventures in the Deep Frontier

by Sylvia A. Earle

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Naturalists & Their Work 

With admiration, caring and reverence, marine biologist Sylvia Earle presents the underwater world with its creatures, including her personal experiences with both plant and animal life in the ocean depths. This stunning photoessay takes readers into the ocean to encounter humpback whales and dolphins as well as the inhabitants of the coral reefs. Earle describes the uses of technology to develop diving suits and submersibles used to explore the unknown areas of the deep. Using state-of the-art equipment and photography, Earle immerses readers into her field research of the wide diversity of life in the depths of the fascinating underwater realm.

      Grades: 3rd & up

  A Drop Around the World

by Barbara Shaw McKinney

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature
Water & Its Cycle 

Over mountains, deserts, rain forests and towns, traveling through landscapes, seas and rivers, into animals and plants, swirling through freezing Arctic air, passing underground through subterranean streams and wells, and rising up amongst clouds and rainbows, a drop of water flows endlessly over the globe, changing state from vapor, rain, fog, mist, snow and ice. Presented in rhyming verse with brilliantly colorful, oversized, full-page illustrations, the journey of "Drop" begins and ends off the New England coast, weaving through numerous settings around the planet in its travels, as it engagingly introduces readers to the wonders and importance of the water cycle. Endnotes supplement factual material about the physical properties of water and its cycle. (A teacher’s guide is also published for lesson plans on the water cycle to accompany the book -- ISBN: 1883220777.)

        Grades: 1st to 6th

  The Drop in My Drink

by Meredith Hooper

PAPERBACK
Water & Its Cycle

Taking a child on a fascinating voyage through time and place, "The Drop in My Drink" tells the story of water as it travels before the beginning of earth to our planet, through the primordial seas of ancient life forms, onto the land throughout millions of organisms which it nourishes. The water in the drop has traveled during its journey throughout the Earth in its forms of ice, vapor and liquid forming the landscape, eroding and rearranging the face of the planet. This engrossing picture book introduces a variety of topics to young readers about geology, biology and chemistry in relation to the role of water, interspersing relevant factual material throughout the drop's extensive journey. This intriguing voyage is followed by "Looking After Water" that outlines the importance of protecting our water resources, a section on the water cycle and "Amazing Water Facts" which supplements the text.

      Grades: 3rd to 6th

  In the Company of Whales

by Alexandra Morton

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Mammals

Presented as a year-long journal entry, In the Company of Whales is an intimate account by Alexandra Morton of her observations of orcas near her home off the Western Coast of British Columbia. She describes the fascinating interactions of orcas within their families as well as with related pods and other marine mammals. Children can learn about the fish feeding patterns of resident orcas that differ from the hunting of marine mammals by the transient orca pods. There are numerous sidebars for readers to learn in more detail about the unique physical traits and fascinating behaviors of orcas – echolocation, dialects, feeding patterns and “greetings” of sunrises and sunsets -- as well as information about several other inhabitants that share their ocean habitat.

See also:http://raincoastresearch.org/orca.htm

      Grades: 3rd to 7th

  Into the Sea

by Brenda Guiberson

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Reptiles

The life cycle of a female sea turtle from the night it hatches on a moonlit beach and crawls to the ocean where it grows, then after more than twenty years instinctively returns to the place of its birth will engage young readers by the vivid, striking illustrations and direct prose. The turtle's travels and encounters with other ocean creatures form a lucid foundation of information about oceanography as well as endangered species.

      Grades: 1st to 3rd

  Life Under Ice

by Mary Cerullo

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems

Dive through a hole of ice with nature photographer Bill Curtsinger to explore the spectacular life that thrives in sub-freezing waters of the Southern Ocean off Antarctica. Readers can learn about the variety of unusual life forms that abound in this unique habitat both under and above the ice. The author notes the work of scientists at McMurdo Station who not only study the animals and their adaptations to the harsh environment -- such as "gigantism" and natural antifreeze -- but also the food web, the weather, the ocean currents, the ozone layer, the stars and the impact of humans as well as the effect of the changing climate on this continent, where "70 percent of the world’s fresh water is frozen in antarctic glaciers up to two miles thick". A glossary and resource list that includes relevant websites is provided for further research about Antarctica.

To learn more visit:
The American Museum of Natural History’s Antarctica: The Farthest Place Close to Home
Cool Antarctica’s Antarctica Schools Resources

See also:
Kathy Conlan's, Under the Ice,
Meredith Hooper's Antarctic Journal , and
Jennifer Owings Dewey's Antarctic Journal: Four Months at the Bottom of the World

      Grades: 3rd to 5th

  The North Pole Was Here: Puzzles and Perils at the Top of the World

by Andrew Revkin

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Global Warming

Recounting his three day visit to the North Pole in the company of scientists who are studying the changing climate of the region, New York Times science reporter, Andrew Revkin takes readers on a fascinating exploration of the Arctic interweaving his personal experiences and observations with the history, ancient lore, mythology and the current focus of scientific research of the Arctic’s changing climate. Amidst the author's personal observations of survival in the harsh icy climate, readers can learn about the perils faced by some of the earliest explorers since the sixteenth century as they ventured across a cap of constantly shifting, drifting ice in search of the North Pole.

In recent years, although temperatures have increased over the planet, the Arctic region in particular is “exhibiting some of the most dramatic shifts in climate seen anywhere on earth”. Revkin examines the current scientific findings of climatologists and oceanographers of their research in the Arctic which holds hidden pieces of the puzzle of past climatic and atmospheric conditions, some of which are recorded in the depths of glaciers or beneath the underwater seabed. The scientists with whom Revkin traveled are monitoring the interaction between the atmosphere, the floating ice and the sea to understand why, with the global warming trend, climatic conditions have recently been changing more dramatically in the North Pole than in the rest of the planet. According to some scientists, the rapid increase of temperature in the Arctic causing the melting of the ice cap could set off a strong cascade of further global warming. The author, pondering the idea of a planet later in this century where in the summer the Arctic Ocean might become mainly open blue water and there would be only one icy pole in the South, writes: "It would be a signal visible far into space that the earth has – to a significant extent – become what one species chooses to make it." In increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the impact of humans is no longer simply local, but global, even to the farthest reaches of the poles. Revkin notes, "Most experts also agree that if prompt actions are not taken to cut the rising flow of heat-trapping gases linked to warming, the odds will only mount that earth’s climate could shift in truly profound ways later in this century."

This compelling and thought-provoking book is a fascinating read both for older children and adults to learn first hand what it is like to experience the Arctic, to imagine what explorers of old seeking the North Pole must have undergone and to consider what the profound implications of global warming might mean for the future of the planet. Excerpts from The New York Times articles on related topics are also included to supplement the chapters as well as color photographs of Revkin’s trip and of other scientific and exploratory expeditions, period photos, maps and scientific illustrations.

See also:
Laurence Pringle's Global Warming,
Anne Rockwell's Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?
Jonathan Grupper's Destination: Polar Regions

For further information visit:
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment -- scientific reports reviewing the changing conditions around the North Pole.
Polar Trec -- an educational research project of Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating in the Arctic and Antarctic, and
International Polar Year 2007-2009 -- a major international science initiative in the Polar Regions.

        Grades: 6th and up

  One Well: The Story of Water on Earth

by Rochelle Strauss

HARDCOVER
Water & Its Cycle
Environmental Themes 

Portraying the water of the Earth as coming from one global source that is the One Well, this vividly illustrated book provides a wealth of information about the importance of water to life as well as the necessity of conserving and protecting this precious resource. Rochelle Strauss, author of Tree of Life, points out that the amount of water on Earth is constant, that the water that existed at the beginning of the Earth is the same as now, and "because it is all connected, how we treat the water in the well will affect every species on the planet, including us, now and for years to come."

This fascinating book examines a wide array of topics on water, including: the water cycle, the importance of water in sustaining all life and how plants and animals also play a role in the water cycle; the integral role of water in habitats; the dependence of life on freshwater which comprises 3% of the water on Earth and of which only 1% is accessible; the rapidly increasing, unsustainable demand by growing populations, industry and agriculture for this resource; the uneven distribution of water throughout different parts of the world; and, the increasing pollution of the One Well. Numerous sidebars offer further information such as the fact that humans are 70% water, that one-third of the human population has access to only one-tenth of the world’s freshwater supply, and that 1.8 million tonnes of garbage are dumped into the Earth’s water everyday.

To protect the Earth’s One Well, Strauss encourages children to become "Well Aware" -- to learn more about the Well, to educate others, to use less water and to protect this resource through actions at home and the community. "Notes to Parents, Guardians and Teachers" includes a discussion of issues besides overconsumption that threaten Earth’s One Well including habitat destruction, global warming and climate change. While encouraging stewardship and responsibility in children to become Well Aware, adults will also "foster a sense of compassion and understanding for the needs of people around the world, as well as other species and habitats."

For more information visit: World Water Day 2007

See also:
Rochell Strauss' Tree of Life,
Barbara Kerley's A Cool Drink of Water,
Meredith Hooper's The Drop in My Drink,
Eleonore Schmid's The Water's Journey, and
Mark Rauzon and Cynthia Overbeck Bix's Water, Water Everywhere

      Grades: 3rd & up

  Our Ocean Home

by Robert Lyn Nelson

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Honu, a green sea turtle, takes children into the brilliant underwater world of the oceans to present the wondrous diversity and fragility of sea life and to emphasize the importance of conserving the oceans of the world. Nelson’s vivid artwork details the wonders and beauty of the ocean habitat around the globe.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Out of the Ocean

by Debra Frasier

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature

During a walk on the seashore a mother and daughter marvel at their surroundings: the girl at the treasures washed up by the ocean, the seashells, pelican feathers, messages in bottles, a wooden shoe and burnished glass; the mother at the sun, the water, sea turtle tracks and the sound of waves. Full-color close-up photographs and mixed media collages of found objects created by the author complement the sights, sounds, smells and textures of the narrative. A photographic afterword for older readers elucidates the origins of the found treasures and the fundamental elements of the ocean setting -- the waves, sun, water, moon and sand.

        Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Paddle-to-the-Sea

by Holling Clancy Holling

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

Paddle-to-the-Sea, a pine figure of an Indian in a canoe, is placed by the boy who carved and christened it into the melting snows of a stream. The fascinating journey of this wooden figure, hundreds of miles down streams and rivers through the Great Lakes down the Saint Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean, will intrigue young readers with adventures that describe natural and man-made habitats as well as provide a captivating geographical lesson of watersheds and waterways of this region.

Reviewed in Nature's Course (September/October 1993) published by CCEL.

        Grades: 4th to 6th

  Pagoo

by Holling Clancy Holling

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Spineless Creatures

The ocean ecosystem, in particular tide pools, is explored through the adventurous life story of Pagoo, a hermit crab.

"Like most of Holling Clancy Holling's books, Pagoo is a classic, as relevant today as when it was written in 1957. It is a wonderful book to begin teaching about the ocean ecosystem. Holling's water color illustrations are evocative of the watery world they depict." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (September/October 1994) published by CCEL.

        Grades: 3rd to 9th

  Prince William

by Gloria Rand

PAPERBACK
Environmental Themes : Pollution & Sustainability

"A young girl ventures to the beach in the aftermath of the Alaskan oil spill and finds a young seal pup on the shore, coated with oil. She and her mother rush the pup to a rescue center in the town's gym. They monitor his progress, and accompany the doctor when he goes to set the rehabilitated seal free. Bright and vibrant illustrations chronicle the young girl's relationship to Prince William the seal, and record the devastating effects of this environmental catastrophe." From Bringing the World Alive: A Bibliography of Nature Stories for Children, published by The Orion Society.

"Although fictional, this story has its base in fact and it personalizes the great suffering experienced by wildlife as a result of such spills as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska which have destroyed many animals and the habitats and food necessary for their survival." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (September/October 1994) published by CCEL.

See also:
Sally Grindley's Peter's Place,
Jacqueline Briggs Martin's Washing the Willow Tree Loon, and
Melvin Berger's Oil Spill!

      Grades: 1st to 3rd

  A River Ran Wild : An Environmental History

by Lynne Cherry

HARDCOVER
Environmental Themes : Extinction & Conservation

"The Native American Indians settle on the Nashua River, named for its crystal clear water. Years later, the European settlers begin the industrialization that eventually renders the river polluted, until the committed efforts of a few individuals restore the river to a healthy state. Large, detailed illustrations serve as a beautiful companion to this compelling story. Smaller pictures surrounding the text of each page offer images of people, places, objects, and events associated with each period of the river's history." From Bringing the World Alive: A Bibliography of Nature Stories for Children, published by The Orion Society.

"A River Ran Wild is an environmental history of the Nashua River (in North-Central Massachusetts) from the time that the first human beings settled there to the present. It explores the history of ideas, of culture, of technology and of human action." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (September/October 1993) published by CCEL.

        Grades: 1st to 5th

  A Salmon for Simon

by Betty Waterton & Ann Blades

PAPERBACK
Animals : Fish
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Simon, a Pacific Northwest Native American boy, had been fishing all summer for salmon and had no luck catching a "Sukai". When an eagle accidentally drops a salmon into a clam hole pool, Simon discovers that instead he wants to try to save the big beautiful fish find its way back to the open sea. This is a simple touching story, richly illustrated, with a conservation theme for young children.

        Grades: Pre-School to 2nd

  Salmon Forest

by David Suzuki & Sarah Ellis

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Fish

As Kate and her father explore the spawning area of sockeye salmon in the woods of the Pacific rain forest, her dad explains the life cycle of these fish as well as the interconnecting web amongst the forest, salmon and the animals that feed on the fish. The nutrients from the salmon feed insects, birds, bears and, ultimately, the forest. In turn, the forest contributes to maintaining a habitat for these fish by conserving the soil and shading the streams. At the end of their exploration, Kate and her dad meet with Native friends in the woods to share a meal of salmon, like the bears, birds, insects and trees. The vibrant watercolor illustrations bring to life the imagery of the life cycle of the sockeye salmon and the Pacific rain forest ecosystem.

        Grades: Preschool to 2nd

  Sawgrass Poems: A View of the Everglades

by Frank Asch

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

"Through evocative poetry and photographs, Sawgrass Poems captures the magic and mystery of one of the most unique ecosystems in the United States -- an immense wetland wilderness where plants and animals of the temperate zone and the tropics mingle. . . . In the appendix, a note about each photo provides additional information which makes this book an excellent teaching tool. But the book is also inspirational." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (January/February 1996) published by CCEL.

Twenty evocative poems about the flora, fauna and physical conditions of the Everglades include: "Alligator Hotel", "If I Had a Vulture", "Some Rivers", "Water Moccasin", "Old Man Mangrove", "A Panther's Life", "My Little Mosquito", "Hey You, Manatee!", " Who Cuts the Sawgrass", "Hurricane Song" and "Stillness".

See also:
Trish Marx's Everglades Forever: Restoring America's Great Wetland
Jane Yolen's Welcome to the River of Grass
Madeleine Dunphy's Here Is the Wetland

      Grades: Kindergarten and up

  Sea Critters

by Sylvia A. Earle

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Various Classes

Written for slightly younger children than "Dive!", marine biologist Sylvia Earle's "Sea Critters" delves into the beauty, diversity and classification of sea life. "Water is magical!" states Earle as she takes the reader into an exploration of the critters that inhabit the underwater realm. From sponges and stingers to a variety of worms such as the lacy, tentacled, Christmas Tree Worm, from soft-bodied mollusks as small as the brightly colored sea slug or as large as the giant squid, from critters with jointed legs and spiny-skinned creatures to the stiff-backed chordates that include the vertebrates, the vast diversity of animal life that abounds in the oceans is presented with concise, clear, informative text. The full-spread illustrated chart of "The Sea Critters' Family Tree" summarizes the categories presented in the book. Full-page, close-up color photographs as well as watercolors of the critters unveil the exquisite beauty of life found in the underwater world.

See also:
Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini's A Swim Through the Sea as well as the accompanying Teacher's Guide

      Grades: 1st to 3rd

  Sea Watch

by Jane Yolen

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature

This moving collection of Yolen's poetry is complemented by the lifelike, watercolor paintings by Ted Lewin celebrating the mysterious inhabitants of the ocean. The fourteen poems include: Anemone, The Grunion, Father Seahorse, Sea Canary -- Beluga, Paper Nautilus, Warning: Sharks, The Crab, Portuguese Man-Of-War, Leatherback Turtle, Pacific Salmon, Sea Otter, Octopus, Barracuda, and Killer Whales. "Sea Watch Notes" at the end of the book provides background information about characteristics and behavior of the various sea creatures depicted in the fourteen lyrical poems.

      Grades: 3rd & up

  The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle

by Lynne Cherry

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Following the development of a mangrove tangle from a sprouting seed into a spreading mangrove island as it gradually grows into a nesting place for birds and a nursery for fish and shellfish, this is a story about the community of life in the Caribbean Sea that depends upon a mangrove tangle for food and shelter. The beautiful artwork and engaging narrative depict the diversity and interdependence of life found in these habitats -- pelicans, herons, shrimp, crabs, lizards, seahorses, dolphins, sea turtles and manatees. In the "Author’s Note", Cherry describes the importance of mangroves not only as barriers for coastal areas from storms, but also as filters that clean out run off pollutants in the water. Many of these important mangrove habitats have been cleared in recent years to create commercial developments and shrimp farms. Maps on the endpapers show the location of these threatened ecosystems and include bordering illustrations of the numerous species of these unique and endangered communities.

For more information visit:
Mangrove Action Project, a project of Earth Island Institute.
The Mangrove Bio-complexity Project of the Smithsonian Environment Research Center.

      Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  The Seashore Book

by Charlotte Zolotow

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature

"A boy from the mountains asks of his mother one night 'what is the seashore like?' What follows is an imaginative sensory adventure through a day at the seashore, from watching the sun break through the morning mist to picking up shells at the water's edge, from listening to the sounds of the wind and the waves to watching the big orange sun sink down from the top of a dune. Exquisite paintings delightfully depict the seashore activities with great attentiveness." From Bringing the World Alive: A Bibliography of Nature Stories for Children, published by The Orion Society.

        Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Siwiti -- A Whale's Story

by Alexandra Morton

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Mammals

Siwiti – A Whale’s Story is the captivating insight into the first year in the life of an orca off the coast of British Columbia in western Canada. Basing Siwiti’s adventures on events witnessed over 11 years of observing orcas, marine researcher Alexandra Morton narrates the year-long adventures of a young killer whale from the moment when she is born and comes to the surface of the ocean to take her first breath. As Siwiti grows under the watchful care of her family, she interacts and plays with her group and other pods of orcas, learns to “see” through sound to chase down salmon, encounters seals, porpoises, deer and humans, explores the mysterious underwater kelp forest and narrowly escapes from aggressive stellar sea lions. Stunning photographs by Robin and Alexandra Morton capture close-up views of the orcas and the magnificent beauty of the ocean habitat in the Pacific Northwest that is home to Siwiti’s pod.

See also:http://raincoastresearch.org/orca.htm

      Grades: 3rd to 7th

  Snapshots: The Wonders of Monterey Bay

by Celeste Mannis

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

The wonders of Monterey Bay are vividly captured in stunning photography, poetic verse and informative text describing the rugged coastline, the glimmering tidepools and the diversity of life forms of this unique marine ecosystem. The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, "the largest federally protected marine environment in North America, " is the site of a vast underwater canyon larger than the Grand Canyon and of rocky shores, kelp forests, sandy beaches, marshes and dunes. Home to sea otters, sea lions, brown pelicans, black-tailed and mule deer, rare moths and butterflies, egrets, blue herons and cormorants, the sanctuary is also visited annually by Northern elephant seals as a rookery and by whales and birds during their migrations. Readers can explore the beauty and astounding diversity of ocean and coastal life as well as spectacular vistas and close-ups of the bay, inland marshes and dunes that inspired author and photographer, Mannis, to share her love of the unique coastal ecosystem where the Pacific Ocean meets central California.

For more information, visit: The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and The Monterey Bay Aquarium.

      Grades: Kindergarten to 4th

  The Snowflake : A Water Cycle Story

by Neil Waldman

HARDCOVER
Water & Its Cycle
Experience of Nature 

During a snowstorm in January, a snowflake falls from the sky onto a jagged mountain. Over the course of a year, month by month transforming from snow to ice to water to vapor, the droplet journeys through the various stages of the water cycle in this lyrical picture book of Waldman’s watercolor artwork. Each month depicts water flowing through underground streams into pipes of irrigation systems, evaporating to form fog and condensing into a cloud, raining down through a plumbing system and flowing back to the ocean, and, having completed the cycle, falling once again as snow onto a jagged mountain.

See also:
Barbara Shaw McKinney's A Drop Around the World, and
Meredith Hooper's The Drop in My Drink

      Grades: 1st to 5th

  Somewhere in the Ocean

by Jennifer Ward & T.J. Marsh

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Various Classes

As children seek to find numbers hidden on the pages of this colorful counting book, they encounter the activities of the diverse inhabitants of the sea. Set to the traditional tune of "Over in the Meadow", the rhythmic, moving verse and colorful, full-page paintings abound with marine animal mothers and their young in their natural habitats -- otters feed in kelp forests; octopuses squirt in a coral reef den; clownfish nestle in an anemone; manatees, orcas, sea turtles, tiger sharks and jellyfish swim through the ocean; and, hermit crabs dress in different shells in a tide pool. "Fun Facts" about each species as well as the "Musical Score" to the verse complement the lively text and images.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Spoonbill Swamp

by Brenda Guiberson

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Various Classes

"In this colorful and lively story, young readers spend the day with a mother spoonbill as she searches for food for her chicks while her mate protects the babies, and a mother alligator also searches for food -- which just might be the spoonbill! We see the wetland ecosystem, the balance of nature and the way animals protect their young." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (January/February 1996) published by CCEL.

The afterword, "Bird and the Beast", describes the similarities and differences of the alligator and roseate spoonbill in terms of their physical characteristics and behavior. It also mentions their former near extinction when they were hunted for the fashion market and the present threat they face of the destruction of their environment.

See also:
Brenda Guiberson's Mud City to learn about the flamingos in Inagua National Park in the Bahamas.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Squish! A Wetland Walk

by Nancy Luenn

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

"Squish! is a perfect way to introduce wetlands, the important habitat they provide and the vital role they plan in the water system. In beautiful watercolors, Himler illustrates a child's-eye view of the wetland with its animals and birds as a little boy and his grandfather discover them on a walk through their 'water meadow'." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (January/February 1996) published by CCEL.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  This is the Sea That Feeds Us

by Robert F. Baldwin

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature
Habitats & Ecosystems 

Beginning with the ocean's phytoplankton, "the basic food of the sea" that through photosynthesis make sugar from the light of the sun, this picture book for children explores the food web and the interdependence of life on the ocean. From the microscopic plankton to crabs, from krill to whales, from fish to humans, the intricate web weaves itself in cumulative verse through the full spread illustrations. Detailed explanations for older children complement the main verse. Readers of all ages will be fascinated to learn about the zillions of microscopic creatures floating in the oceans that produce over half the supply of the world's oxygen and upon which the marine food web depends.

        Grades: Preschool & up

  Time of Wonder

by Robert McCloskey

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature

"Here is the story of a magical summer in the islands of Maine. Children frolic in the forests and the seas, attentively watch fiddlehead ferns unfurl, jump off a rock that the glaciers carved, and gaze into the water at the reflection of the stars. We witness the arrival of a hurricane, and all the preparation that precedes a natural event of such intensity. In the calm silence of the morning after, we explore the tops of felled trees and watch storm-flattened sunflowers stretch their heads toward the sun. The pages of this book extol the wonders of the world of summer through the curious eyes of a child." From Bringing the World Alive: A Bibliography of Nature Stories for Children, published by The Orion Society.

A Caldecott Medal winner (1988).

        Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion

by Loree Griffin Burns

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Environmental Themes  : Pollution & Sustainability

Tracking Trash unfolds like a mystery setting readers on a path of discovery to learn about the ocean and its currents, the scientific work of oceanographers and beachcombers, and the impact of trash on marine life and why we need to protect the ocean ecosystem. During the 1990’s flotsam and jetsam – floating trash that falls or is thrown from ships at sea – provided oceanographer Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer the tools for studying the movement of ocean surface currents. Sneakers, bathtub toys, LEGO pieces, hockey gloves and computer monitors washed up on shores, thousands of miles away from where they initially were dumped into the ocean. Studying the paths of floating garbage also revealed the "East Garbage Patch" of the Pacific Ocean -- an area the size of Alaska found in a gyre that is a convergence zone formed by the confluence of currents, where plastics that are not pulled underwater by the currents continue to float and amass -- containing 3 million tons of garbage. Besides discovering how flotsam and jetsam has provided information for oceanographers about surface currents, readers will also learn how floating trash ends up destroying marine life and habitats. "Ghost-nets," lost or discarded fishing nets, entangle and kill 100,000 ocean wildlife yearly and destroy corals that have been formed over hundreds of years; nurdles, tiny plastic particles of degraded bits of larger plastic pieces, end up in the digestive tracts of marine life. Along with its color photos, maps, diagrams, informative sidebars, glossary and website/book listings, Tracking Trash offers kids an intriguing, informative investigation of oceans as well as an understanding of the long-lasting, devastating impact of trash on marine ecosystems.

To learn more visit:
Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer’s website Beachcombers’ and Oceanographers’ International Association
Algalita Marine Research Foundation



      Grades: 5th & up

  Turtle Tide

by Stephen R. Swinburne

HARDCOVER
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Reptiles

Turtle Tide brings readers into the fascinating world of the endangered sea turtle, an ancient reptile that has survived since the times of the dinosaurs. The narrative opens in the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean where a loggerhead sea turtle is swimming to the beach where many years ago she was born. She crawls ashore, carefully lays her eggs, and then returns to the sea. The narrative continues following the fate of the one hundred eggs the mother turtle covered with sand in a dune, as some hatch, emerge from the hole and scuttle across the open beach to their ocean home, whereas most fall prey to hungry raccoons, ghost crabs, birds and fish. Weaving lyrical prose with factual information, Swinburne’s narrative is complemented by dramatic watercolor illustrations, many showing close-ups vividly depicting the world of the endangered sea turtle and the struggle for survival of the young hatchlings.

      Grades: 2nd to 5th

  Under the Ice

by Kathy Conlan

PAPERBACK
Naturalists & Their Work
Environmental Themes  : Pollution & Sustainability

Marine biologist Kathy Conlan takes readers into the icy depths of the seas under Antarctica to explore the unique environment and creatures who inhabit the region. In this impressive photo-essay that includes biographical, historical and geographical information, Conlan describes her ongoing research on the impact of human pollution on marine life and provides an insight into the rigors and intricacies of her work as a scientist. First-person accounts are also given of her 3-month journey to Antarctica, daily life at the research base of McMurdo Station, several harrowing experiences diving under 6 feet of ice, her fascinating close encounters underwater and over ice with Weddell seals, Adelies and Emperor penguins, her explorations of neon blue ice caves and her trip to the South Pole -- all complemented by stunning color photography. Through Conlan’s fascinating account readers can learn about the importance of her research and the unique biodiversity of the remote continent of Antarctica, "that magnificent, frozen world full of fragile beauty."

See also: Mary Cerullo's, Life Under Ice

        Grades: 4th to 8th

  Water

by Frank Asch

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Water & Its Cycle 

"With beautiful, bright water color paintings, and in simple plain text, Frank Asch gives his young readers a clear and gentle portrait of water and what it is. From rain and dew to a long winding river, water is presented in its many forms in a way accessible to kindergarteners. For older elementary students each page can be used as a gateway for further discussion." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (Fall 1997) published by CCEL.

        Grades: Preschool to 2nd

  Water Dance

by Thomas Locker

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Water & Its Cycle 

"In this stunningly beautiful book, Thomas Locker presents the story of water in lush oil paintings and quiet moving text: 'Some people say that I am one thing. Others say that I am many. Ever since the world began I have been moving in an endless circle. Sometimes I fall from the sky. I am the rain.' . . . The Afterward is more than just scientific facts; it is beautifully and poetically written and it makes the water cycle accessible to any age reader." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (Fall 1997) published by CCEL.

        Grades: Preschool to 5th

  The Water Hole

by Graeme Base

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

This amusing puzzle and counting book carrying an ecological theme artfully depicts the diversity of animals of different habitats from around the world -- each group looking onto a water hole that grows smaller and smaller at each successive image. As more and more animals at each habitat crowd around the dwindling water hole, one-by-one the frogs disappear . . . until the rainstorm when all the animals are reunited around the plentiful water hole. Graeme Base, who both wrote and illustrated the book, was inspired by a safari in Kenya and Tanzania to create a book about the cycle of seasons on the African plains, which was eventually expanded to include other habitats and their wildlife -- rhinos, tigers, toucans, snow leopards, moose, catfish, pandas, ladybugs, tortoises and kangaroos -- from India, South America, the Himalayas, North America, China, Europe, the Galapagos and Australia.

      Grades: Preschool to 3rd

  Water Music

by Jane Yolen

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature
Water & Its Cycle 

"This book is a perfect blend of words and pictures. In response to her son's lovely photographs, Jane Yolen has written about water in its various forms. The photos and poems offer new ways of seeing water and ice, sometimes, in surprising ways." Excerpt of review from Nature's Course (Fall 1997) published by CCEL.

        Grades: 3rd to 7th

  Water, Water Everywhere

by Mark J. Rauzon and Cynthia Overbeck Bix

PAPERBACK
Water & Its Cycle
Environmental Themes  : Pollution & Sustainability

Water, Water Everywhere, published by the Sierra Club, celebrates water as the most precious resource of life as well as the astounding beauty that water brings to the Earth. Beautiful, vivid photographs and concise, poetic text explore the various forms of water in its continuous, never-ending cycle, its importance in sustaining life and shaping the Earth as well as the need for all people to conserve and protect this limited, vital resource. The stunning photography shows water as an integral part of nature as well as images of children splashing, playing and walking in this wondrous, vital element which "brings color and life to earth".

        Grades: Kindergarten to 2nd

  The Waterfall's Gift

by Joanne Ryder

HARDCOVER
Experience of Nature

Readers are taken on a voyage of memories through woodland beauty as a young girl journeys to the north woods she and her grandfather used to explore. As she wanders into the woods past a stream, stopping to eat berries and chirp to the birds, she hears the call of the waterfall -- "The old north woods hides treasure in its deepest places," her grandfather had told her. As she rests at the pool of the waterfall, she shares her secret place with a curious otter. The detailed tempera paintings by Watson capture the beauty of the lyrical prose and natural setting of the north woods in this journey of the senses through time in nature.

        Grades: 1st through 3rd

  The Water's Journey

by Eleonore Schmid

PAPERBACK
Water & Its Cycle

"This book uses simple language to explain the complexities of the water cycle. It tells the story of tiny drops of water freezing, falling as snowflakes, journeying all the way to the ocean, only to evaporate and return to the sky. The paintings visually depict the segments of the journey and lend insight into how water affects rocks, plants, animals, and people." From Bringing the World Alive: A Bibliography of Nature Stories for Children, published by The Orion Society.

Reviewed in Nature's Course (March/April 1994) published by CCEL.

      Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  Whale Rescue

by Erich Hoyt

HARDCOVER
Animals : Mammals
Environmental Themes  : Extinction & Conservation

Whale Rescue explores the plight of many species of whales around the world that over nine centuries have been hunted to near extinction and provides an insight into the work of conservationists worldwide dedicated to protecting the remaining whales. The book includes numerous photos of close-ups of whales as well as historical images of commercial whaling. Besides the threats from commercial whaling, the remaining populations of these magnificent animals, some of which were 90% decimated through hunting, now also face declining numbers from pollution, overfishing and entanglements in fishing equipment. Author Erich Hoyt, who is a researcher with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, also offers an insight into the traits and behaviors of different whale species – migrations, songs, social structures and reproduction -- besides describing the efforts of scientists, conservationists and several governments to save these spectacular mammals from an uncertain future.

        Grades: 4th to 8th

  Whales Passing

by Eve Bunting

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature
Animals  : Mammals

Standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, a young boy and father gaze out to watch a pod of orcas streaming through the waters below and imagine the underwater world of these magnificent creatures. Images of orcas glide across the pages of this beautiful picture book that introduces these fascinating ocean mammals to young readers.

      Grades: Preschool to 2nd

  Where the River Begins

by Thomas Locker

PAPERBACK
Experience of Nature
Water & Its Cycle 

"Josh and Aaron set out on a journey, guided by their grandfather and their curiosities, to discover where the river that flows by their house begins. They backpack through many landscapes, following the river until they come to a pond, high in the mountains --- they have discovered the source of the river. The children learn about the cycle of water that brings rain to the pond, down through the river, and out into the ocean. Magical landscape paintings celebrate the pure wonder of this natural journey." From Bringing the World Alive: A Bibliography of Nature Stories for Children, published by The Orion Society.

Reviewed in Nature's Course (September/October 1993) published by CCEL.

      Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd

  Winter Whale

by Joanne Ryder

PAPERBACK
Habitats & Ecosystems
Animals  : Mammals

A boy imagining that he is transformed into a humpback whale explores the underwater home of this magnificent mammal where he comes across a pod of whales as well as other creatures of the ocean. This "first-hand experience" affords young readers a unique perspective of the movements and behavior of whales and their communication through song as well as vivid illustrations of their underwater habitat, inspired by the waters around the Hawaiian Islands. The "Author's Note" provides factual information about the physical characteristics, migratory patterns and behavior of humpback whales.

        Grades: Kindergarten to 3rd