The Deep Blue

Authored by Charlotte Guillain
Illustrated by Lou Baker Smith
Published by QED

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The Deep Blue is a beautiful introduction to ocean habitats, creatures, food webs and ecosystems. Readers are invited to dive in and explore the Earth’s majestic oceans in this very appealing book. It begins with the bigger picture and a concise overview in the first spread of the earth’s oceans which make up over 70 per cent of the planet’s surface. The following spread is dedicated to explaining the tide, described as ‘the rhythmic heartbeat of the ocean’. Each spread is connected to the previous giving a narrative feel. This makes the book an ideal choice to read aloud. Charlotte Cuillain’s text is lyrical and evocative. The best information text paints vivid word pictures for the reader and this is firmly in that category. Take this example describing the ‘purple spiky sea urchins’ gathering to attack the kelp forest:

The vast, hungry herd grazes on the kelp, their sharp, bony mouths scraping and ripping the seaweed to shreds. Their teeth are constantly worn down and replaced as they chew their way onwards. The sea urchins swarm through the forest, devouring the tough kelp holdfasts and consuming the seaweed that provides safety and shelter for many living things. In a few months the kelp forest will be completely ravaged. Can anything stop these spiny destroyers?

Language is carefully selected to support the reader to build a mental image and new knowledge.

The design of the book is extremely attractive. I found myself marvelling at the range of spreads where the illustrations and text work together in perfect harmony. Lou Baker Smith uses a sumptuous range of colour and texture to bring the oceans to life. Schemes of light and dark are employed magnificently to show the contrasts of the ocean.

Charlotte Guillain’s letter to the reader at the end of the book makes clear her intention to inspire young readers to protect our oceans. The beauty that is introduced in this book should certainly provoke readers to think more carefully about the oceans. The publisher identifies this as a book for 5-7 year old but it deserves a wider readership. The quality of the language and illustration give The Deep Blue the potential to be studied in depth in lower Key Stage Two (7-9-year-olds) and possibly beyond. Young readers will definitely benefit from hearing this lyrical text read aloud. A superb choice for any primary class looking to add high-quality nonfiction titles to support learning in science.