Exploring the Deep, Dark Sea
Author: Gail Gibbons
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown/1999
ISBN: 0316309451
Age Levels: 5 and up

Book Review

Gail Gibbons is an exceptional writer of non-fiction for children. Exploring the Deep, Dark Sea is an impressive example of why. Gibbons deftly weaves a host of facts into a story that reads like fiction.

The adventure begins as a large ship reaches "its destination far out to sea. Two oceanographers and a pilot climb into a submersible. This small craft is a diving vessel that can measure, videotape, and collect samples of water, plants, and animals found in the ocean."

Gibbons illustrates the submersible in a cross-section drawing, complete with labeled details. As the vehicle descends, readers are treated to detailed pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings that capture the swirling blue world. As the submersible travels deeper, the drawings become darker, the creatures more exotic. (A vampire squid floats like a dark ghost near an orange arrowworm.)

At the bottom (7,500 feet below the surface), the pilot begins to gather samples with the submersible's mechanical arms. Their tasks completed, the group begins to ascend, rising through the water which "changes from black to dark blue to light shades of green and blue" until they reach the surface.

Gibbons also includes a brief section on the "abyss" (13,000 to 20,000 feet below the surface) where the creatures living in the stillness there have "soft, squishy bodies." She also discusses the trenches.

One fascinating (and wonderfully illustrated) feature of the book is a double-page timeline on "Diving: Past and Present."

Classroom Experience: We used the book as a read aloud to present a lesson on "synthesizing," a concept that we were teaching at the time. At the end of the book, Gibbons notes that 98% of the ocean floor is still unexplored. This fact provoked a spirited class discussion of "What else may be living in the ocean that we don't know about?" Afterward, we had the students create their own sea creature. They drew and colored their creatures and labeled its parts.

Classroom Uses: Excellent browsing fare as well as reference material. The title would also serve well as an anchor text for a unit on the ocean.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis http://www.educationoasis.com

About the Author

Gail Gibbons has written and illustrated more than one hundred informational books for children. A talented writer who turns fact into entertainment, she was awarded the prestigious Washington Post Children's Book Guild Award for overall contribution to children's non-fiction. Gail lives with her husband in Vermont and Maine. Be sure to visit the author's website.