In the Sea
In the Sea
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David Elliott, illus. by Holly Meade
ISBN 9780763644987
Candlewick, 2012.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: david-elliott ocean-life poetry science sea

In the Sea
by David Elliott, illus. by Holly Meade

In this third stellar collaboration by the creators of On the Farm and In the Wild, poet and artist do for the ocean depths what they did for the barnyard and jungle.

David Elliott once again invents surprising similes that ask us to reconsider familiar creatures. Take "The Sea Turtle," which swims for 30 years and returns to its birthplace: "Rare instrument of nature,/ fair compass in a carapace." Holly Meade portrays the cavernous mouth of "The Shark" to underscore the impact of the poem's last lines: "The fin,/ the skin,/ the brutal grin.../ The terror/ of the dark within." After a number of blue and green–dominated undersea spreads, poet and artist shake things up with the golden-hued landscape of "The Starfish": "Five fingers,/ like a hand,/ the starfish shines/ in a sky of sand." Other spreads emphasize the interconnectedness of sea life, such as a coral reef, anemone and the clown fish, which is "not an enemy/ of anemone;/ in fact, it is anemone's maid,/ for which anemone/ stings its enemies./ And that's how friends are made."

Author and artist build to a dramatic finish with "The Blue Whale." This "largest animal alive" barely breaks the surface of the ocean and dominates the horizon line in Meade's illustration, as it "sings a chanty deep and slow/ of winds that rage and storms that blow." Thanks to this collection of 17 poems, we stop to consider the awe-inspiring life that goes on in our planet's salty depths.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

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