Reviews for Life in the Ocean : The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

Booklist Reviews 2012 February #2
*Starred Review* This stunning picture-book biography from the creator of Planting the Trees of Kenya (2008) invites young explorers to connect Sylvia Earle's early life as a child "investigator" to her career as a world-renowned marine scientist and advocate. When Earle was 12, her family moved to Florida and, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, "she lost her heart to the water." Many years later, in 1970, Earle plunged 50 feet below the surface and lived for two weeks at the deep-sea station Tektite II; nine years later, she walked in a "Jim suit" among the coral reefs, 1,250 feet down, on the ocean floor off Hawaii. Nivola's lyrical text portrays Earle's passion for and commitment to the ocean, particularly as she incorporates many of Earle's own poetic words (the ocean is "the blue heart of the planet"). The double-page, delicately detailed artwork is exquisite as Earle looks into the "grapefruit-size" eyes of humpback whales, observes ballerina-like dolphins, meets creatures, no two alike, and experiences a world most can only dream about. One particularly gorgeous spread--which resembles a starry night sky--illustrates an expedition 3,000 feet below the surface, which Earle described as "like diving into a galaxy." The extensive author's note, which serves as a call to action to preserve our endangered oceans, is sure to inspire the next generation. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Earle's intimate knowledge of the creatures she's spent over half a century observing, whether while snorkeling near the surface or walking on the ocean floor, permeates this enthusiastic biography illustrated with exquisitely detailed watercolor art. An author's note explains why we all need to get involved in efforts to curtail the threats of overfishing, climate change, oil spills, and other pollutants. Bib.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #2
Oceanographer Sylvia Earle's intimate knowledge of the creatures she's spent over half a century observing, whether while snorkeling near the surface or walking on the ocean floor, permeates this enthusiastic picture book biography. Nivola's exquisitely detailed watercolor art, almost pointillist in some spreads, is perfect for depicting the natural world at both the micro and macro level. In an early scene, young Sylvia kneels by a pond studying a dragonfly, and the grassy bank surrounding her provides a veritable hidden-picture hunt of wildlife -- salamanders, turtles, insects, a miniature nest with two tiny eggs. Later Nivola uses a quote from Earle to caption a double-page expanse of deep blue dotted with bioluminescent species. In the quote, Earle compares venturing three thousand feet underwater to "diving into a galaxy." Nivola's rather idiosyncratically organized text zooms in and out, here documenting Earle's up-close observations of fish in a coral reef, there explaining her concern for the future of the whole ocean system. In one of the more magically described encounters, Earle says of humpback whales that "hearing their haunting and beautiful songs in the sea is like being inside the heart of an orchestra." An author's note explains why we all need to get involved in efforts to curtail the threats of overfishing, climate change, oil spills, and other pollutants. christine m. heppermann Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #1
Young explorers will be happy to dive into this captivatingly illustrated biography of the renowned oceanographer. Blue is everywhere, as is the marvelous diversity of undersea life, as Nivola recounts Earle's passion for the oceans. From early childhood, she cultivated her love of nature; her family's move to Florida, close to the Gulf of Mexico's enthralling depths, clinched things. From then on, Earle's explorations took her further and deeper. She helped design devices that allowed dives to profound underwater depths and witnessed the extraordinary phenomenon of bioluminescence. She lived for two weeks beneath the waves in a deep-sea station. Studies of whales yielded nearly magical observations. The detailed, richly colored, jewel-like illustrations capture the majesty of the undersea world and its astonishingly beautiful inhabitants. Nivola is careful to show Earle in perspective, so readers can fully comprehend the ocean's vastness and understand that humans are merely a part of the amazing richness of life on Earth and under its waters. A delicious invitation to swim with the fishes. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 January #5

Nivola's (Orani: My Father's Village) folk-styled paintings immediately pull readers into this short biography of oceanographer Sylvia Earle, a pioneer and entrepreneur in her field who also set an example for women of the mid-20th century. The initial spread of Earle's childhood farm is a Grandma Moses-like collection of pale greens, earth tones, and diminutive motifs that invites closer inspection to find other details: a pair of mallards in a dusky pond, a red cardinal atop a willow. The panoramic illustrations soon move underwater, as Earle's family relocates to the Gulf Coast, and her interests lead her deeper into ocean exploration. Especially stunning is a bright watercolor of Earle scuba diving amid a tropical reef, the coral and sea life forming a colorful border as she swims between the pages. The straightforward narrative highlights Earle's career and also provides a few intimate closeups from specific dives ("Moments before the collision, the whale swerved gracefully, tilting her great head to look into Sylvia's eyes"). Earle's zeal for ocean exploration and preservation is evident in this visually striking introduction to a remarkable scientist. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 February

Gr 1-5--Readers lucky enough to dive into the unknown world of the renowned oceanographer will discover how a child's curiosity grew into a passion to explore and protect "the blue heart of the planet." Born in 1935, Earle grew up in rural New Jersey, where the woods, ponds, and wildlife captured her interest and imagination; she "was a biologist and a botanist long before she even knew what those words meant." When the family moved to Florida in 1947, with the Gulf of Mexico practically in her backyard, she "lost her heart to the water." Roaming the ocean floor in an aqua suit, codesigning a one-person spherical bubble, and plunging 13,000 feet in a Japanese submersible did not satisfy Earle's oceanic wanderlust. In 1970 she realized her dream to "live" underwater; she spent two weeks 50 feet below the surface, observing the daily habits of sea creatures day and night. Detailed watercolor illustrations offer readers a unique perspective of the sea and its inhabitants. A striking spread depicts a 40-foot-long gray humpback whale in deep blue water eyeing a minuscule Earle. Quotes from her journal explain that these huge creatures are surprisingly "…sleek and elegant and gorgeous… they move like ballerinas…dancing in the sea." An author's note details the subject's accomplishments from marine biologist to entrepreneur to environmentalist. Use this engaging read-aloud to introduce students to an inspiring life during women's history month or pair it with Jennifer Berne's Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau (Chronicle, 2008) for an ocean or Earth Day unit.--Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY

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