The author of over 250 science books for children turns his attention to coral reefs.
Coral reefs, readers learn, are both the skeletons of reef-building corals and the community that makes use of them. Although they make up only a tiny portion of the ocean floor, they provide a home to a quarter of all underwater ocean life. Only a rain forest ecosystem supports more plants and animals. In an expository text that sometimes reads like a set of lecture notes, Simon’s introduction covers reef formation and locations and describes some inhabitants: different kinds of coral, fish and invertebrates. He notes that activity is different at night, and he mentions both the value of these areas and threats to their survival. Beautiful stock photographs, some stretching across the fold and some showing humans exploring that marvelous world, make this a treat for the eye. But this is eye candy, not nourishment. There are no labels. Images usually connect with something in the accompanying text, but without previous familiarity with the subject, readers will find them hard to interpret. A nighttime scene features a lionfish, but there is no mention of the danger that invasive species poses to Atlantic reefs.
For research or for pleasure, titles by Jason Chin, Sneed Collard or Gail Gibbons offer more. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 6-10)