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THESE SEAS COUNT! by Alison Formento


by Alison Formento ; illustrated by Sarah Snow

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8075-7871-1
Publisher: Whitman

When Mr. Tate’s class helps with beach cleanup, they learn about the importance of the ocean and listen to a tally of sea creatures, from one to 10.

A friendly sea captain meets the group on a trash-strewn shore and encourages them to listen to the sad sea. From one whale breaching to 10 dolphins leaping, the sea introduces some of its inhabitants. This counting exercise, appropriate for very young readers, is followed by an explanation of why oceans matter, including the role of phytoplankton in the food chain and atmosphere and a poem about the water cycle. (Happily for tots in over their heads, the successful beach cleanup is followed by a boat trip.) This well-meant but muddled picture book seems to be addressing two different audiences: preschoolers who might enjoy the counting exercise (and not be bothered by sea turtles who “surf” through kelp or slow-moving seahorses who “gallop”); and elementary school–aged children ready for more complicated explanations and for the sad reality of oil and sewage spills and dead animals. Snow’s digital collages effectively show how out of place human trash is on a sandy beach. The story pattern will be familiar to readers of this pair’s earlier environmental field-trip descriptions of trees and bees.

The information is important, but the presentation is depressing. (Picture book. 4-8)