Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE OCEAN IS... by Kathleen W. Kranking


by Kathleen W. Kranking & illustrated by Norbert Wu

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-8050-7097-4
Publisher: Henry Holt

The ocean is certainly more than this abbreviated glance at its flora and fauna implies. Though Wu goes nose-to-nose with a shark and a sea otter, most of his marine photos are typical views of reefs and shallows—only occasionally reproduced with the clarity and brilliance of color he normally achieves. Kranking’s accompanying verses are likewise uneven in quality; characterizing the ocean as a playground, an art museum, a galaxy, a forest, and so forth, she expands on each metaphor with a rhymed observation: “Corals bloom beneath the waves, / Just like a garden grows. / But if you try to sniff these blooms, / There’s water up your nose!” She also varies the number of beats in her lines unpredictably, tries to rhyme “tour” with “more,” and turns the dramatic closing photo of a breaching humpback whale waving a flipper extremely hokey with, “The time has come to say so long.” Many other titles, including Wu’s own Fish Faces (1993) capture the undersea world’s dazzling swirl of forms and colors—and for the broad view, Seymour Simon’s Ocean (1990) is still hard to beat. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)