Just Imagine

The Brilliant Deep

Authored by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Published by Chronicle Books

For fans of picturebook biographies, The Brilliant Deep is highly recommended. It’s a beautifully presented book, telling the story of Ken Nedimyer, a diver and fish collector who has spent over twenty years working tirelessly to restore endangered coral reefs off the coast of the USA. Alongside his daughter and a small team of volunteers, and using nothing more sophisticated than chipping hammers and glue, he has attached tens of thousands of coral colonies to bare rocks around Florida Keys, resurrecting hundreds of dying reefs.

Not being previously aware of Ken’s efforts, I found this to be a truly inspirational story. The simple, colourful illustrations accompany the text perfectly, giving extra meaning to some of the more ambiguous phrases. In addition to the main story, the book also gives a brief explanation of why coral reefs across the world are being destroyed and how children can become involved in helping to save them. The message that clearly resonates all the way through the book is about the positive difference that just one dedicated and passionate person can have on the planet. The final few pages inject a real feeling of optimism for the future of the world’s coral reefs as long as action is taken immediately.

The Brilliant Deep would work well as an introduction to a class topic on conservation or the oceans, as well as providing numerous opportunities for discussions about responsibility, teamwork and the importance of leading by example. It is suitable for children across Key Stage Two.