A New York Times best-selling author and a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator take you down deep for a look at life below the waves. Reviewed today by Karen Estrada.

In the Sea ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 3-5), David Elliot’s companion volume to his books On the Farm and In the Wild, is a stunning and educational glimpse into the creatures of the ocean deep. Holly Meade’s magnificent woodcut illustrations are reflective of the ever undulating world beneath the sea’s surface; the often bold, sometimes fierce, images of sea life juxtaposed against the soft shades of their ocean habitat reminded me of days I spent scuba diving off the coast of Thailand where the vibrant colors of sea life stand out against a muted palette of blue-green hues. Meade’s illustrations are nothing short of art—images I would happily purchase and frame to hang in my child’s room.

If only for the illustrations, this book is worth purchasing, but let’s not discount the enlightening poetry of David Elliot who offers descriptions of both familiar sea creatures, such as the Shark, and those less likely to appear in a children’s book, like the Mackerel or Chambered Nautilus. Using a variety of poetic styles imposed over Meade’s captivating illustrations, Elliot gives children a keen insight into the characteristics, lives, and habits of twenty creatures of the sea. The vocabulary Elliot employs in his poetry often surpasses that of a young child, using words like “apparition” and “belligerent,” which deepens the educational opportunities this book has to offer. I had no idea what a turtle’s “carapace” was until I looked it up; even I learned something from reading this remarkable book. David Elliot’s poetry and Holly Meade’s illustrations in In the Sea pair together swimmingly to depict the often enigmatic nature of sea life in a book that I will return to again and again.

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