Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by author/illustrator Claire A. Nivola is a lovely new picture book biography of a pioneer of in the field of ocean studies.
If you have never heard of Sylvia Earle, she is a scientist and conservationist whose goals in life have been to delve deeply into the oceans and learn as much as she can, and then share her passion and knowledge with others. As Nivola quotes in her extensive Author’s Note in the back matter, Earle realizes, “You can’t care if you don’t know.”
As so appropriate for a children’s book, after a brief introduction to the immenseness and importance of the ocean, Nivola describes Earle’s childhood. Sylvia Earle spent her early years on a farm in New Jersey, where she began to study all the living things around her. If she had stayed there, things might have turned out very differently. Instead, when Sylvia and her family moved to Clearwater, Florida when she was twelve. Suddenly, she had a beautiful ocean to explore right in her own backyard. Her life was changed forever.
Nivola has allowed her subject to tell her own story without excessive crafting. Nivola’s delicate and whimsical watercolors are lovely, and they rise to a new level in the underwater scenes, where Sylvia becomes a sea creature herself.
Life in the Ocean is will be a hit with children who are interested in oceans, in science, in history and/or in conservation. The incredible story of Sylvia Earle’s life is sure to inspire future explorers.
Adults who are interested in learning more about Sylvia Earle, should try her TED presentation or the Mission Blue website.
If you’d like to learn more about Claire Nivola, Seven Impossible Things has a fascinating author interview.
Other reviews of Life in the Ocean may be found at:
Included in a list of biographies of 20th Century Women Scientists at The Miss Rumphius Effect.
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 13, 2012)
Book was provided by my local library.