The familiar contrast between city and country is used to compare the teeming, colorful and diverse world of tropical fishes with the more uniformly colored, less varied and less crowded cold-water world.
Cerullo, who used the city metaphor in her earlier Coral Reef (1995), organizes support for this extension in double-page spreads, contrasting the fish of warmer and cooler bioregions in various ways. She goes beyond number and density to consider such factors as size and shape, coloration, cooperation and specializations. Her interesting text sometimes sits on and sometimes adjoins Rotman’s striking underwater photographs. Species are identified. The perspective often reflects the viewpoint of the photographer-diver—noting, for example, the different colors of the water. A section entitled “How Humans Can Become Fish” describes scuba diving and includes an image of the photographer's wetsuit-clad son with a giant lobster. A final section connects this underwater world to our own. Words in italics are defined in a glossary, which includes important concepts (ecosystems, symbiosis, food web, tropical vs. temperate) and more specialized vocabulary (lateral line, barbel, phytoplankton, chromatophore). The short list of suggested further reading includes more of the author’s writings and not much else, a disappointment in an otherwise informative title.
This attractive new look at underwater life may inspire diving dreams for both city and country readers. (Nonfiction. 9-13)