Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Life in the Ocean

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Every Wednesday, I'll review non-fiction picture book. (It may not always be a picture book.) Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other non-fiction books are shared this week!

Title: Life in the Ocean 
Author: Claire A. Nivola 
Illustrator: Claire A. Nivola 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Publication Date: March 2012 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction Biography/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.
What I Think: I just looked up Sylvia Earle on wikipedia and it says she is 77 and was named First Hero for the Planet by Time magazine. I have to be honest that I had never heard of Sylvia Earle before reading this book and yet she is a very famous oceanographer.
     Claire Nivola does a wonderful job of telling Sylvia's tale and gracefully weaving in bits and pieces of her life. There is one page where she jumps from various times in her life to move the story along and it struck me how expertly she did that. It also made me stop and wonder if I remember that happening in other non-fiction narrative picture books so I want to go look back at Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey because I vaguely feel like I remember it in that text as well. After reading Save the Cat, a screenwriting book by Blake Snyder, I'm so much more aware of structure in stories or the different "beats" of a story as he calls them. It would be a great activity to pull different biography picture books to see how the beats overlap, what a great text analysis that would be!
     I think biographical picture books are such a great way to introduce students to influential people of the past and present. I know I connect so much more with a person from reading a picture book or other narrative non-fiction than from reading the informational type books that don't use a narrative style. I do think there is a benefit of combining both and also incorporating online reading as well. It might be a lot of fun to ask students to think about the most random thing and then research who invented that object and do research on that. This would tie in perfectly with Chris Lehman's ideas in Engergize about approaching research in a more authentic way. I'm sure there are people behind inventions whose story isn't very exciting but I'm also sure are fascinating stories out there. I can see how this would even be a great activity for partner or small group work so students could gather their information and discuss together whose story they would want to really research extensively and write about. When I read The Devil in the White City, I was shocked to find out why the Ferris wheel is called a Ferris wheel and how it came to be that Ferris wheels even exist! Oh! Now I just sparked my own idea for a possible picture book! Off to see if there are books already written about this and if there is even enough information to be able to write this. I can see students getting excited about writing their own!
Read Together: Grades 3 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 3 - 12 
Read With: Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins, The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, Here Comes the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey
Snatch of Text:  
     "Sylvia has even heard whales singing while she has been underwater, and, once, the force of the sound saves made her entire body vibrate and shake. Wavelengths of light do not penetrate deep into water, but sound waves travel four times faster in water than in air, so whales can communicate across vast distances. Sylvia says that hearing their haunting and beautiful songs in the sea is like being inside the heart of an orchestra."
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Descriptive, Simile, $100 Words, Word Choice
Writing Prompts: Describe an experience you had in or near water, either in an ocean or other body of water or a pool. Use your five sense and be conscious of your word choice as you show, don't tell.  
Topics Covered: Values, Beliefs, Determination, Passion, Integration - Science, Oceans, Animals, Perseverance,
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