Hatched on a sandy shore, a green sea turtle swims to sea, makes her home in a coral reef where there are “lots of surprises,” and when fully mature, returns to her home shore to lay eggs for a new generation.
Without anthropomorphizing in any way, Malnor uses the turtle’s experience to introduce the inhabitants of a coral reef, from the polyps who secrete the hard coral structure through fish that make their homes there to tiger sharks, the top predator in that ecosystem. Each spread offers a two-level text: a short narrative and a rhyming, summarizing couplet. Watercolor illustrations are accurate enough for easy identification—even of the author as she dives in the reef. A “Featured Creatures” appendix provides further explanation for each spread, introducing the most important inhabitants. The thumbnails in “Illustrious Additions” identify other creatures shown in the paintings. A world map shows where coral reefs can be found, and there is a page of teaching suggestions and further sources. What distinguishes this simple introduction is its breadth and accuracy. Important concepts are included but, appropriately for the age, there are no tragedies.
Readers and listeners will come away with an appreciation for the complexity and interdependence of the coral reef world. Kiki’s reef is the place to be. (Informational picture book. 4-9)