nonfiction nuggets…a look at creatures whose homes are far from shore

Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage, written and illustrated by Sophie Webb

The Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean is a 7.7 million-square-mile area — larger than Africa! — teeming with wildlife who are terribly tricky to study due to their vast home and its distance from land.  Sophie Webb, a naturalist specializing in birds, and author of several fabulous science books for children, made a four-month research trip into this tantalizing, far-flung world, and wrote this book to tell us all about it!

Webb writes this book, like her others,  in a journal format, which gives even its scientific information a friendly, personal feel.  She also illustrates it with colorful, watercolor paintings, detailing interesting bits about life aboard ship, as well as the curious birds, fish, and mammals she encounters at sea.

There’s a great deal of information packed in these pages.  We learn about several species of dolphins, and the efforts to restore their populations after the toll tuna-fishing has taken on them.  Webb tells us what we know, as well as what we still are wondering about;  facts, as well as puzzling questions; both of which are helpful for developing understanding.  We also check in with thousands of seabirds, numerous, assorted whales, shimmering bursts of flying fish, yellowfin tuna,  squid, and a bunch of tiny creatures who end up being food for these bigger fellows!

We learn about the effects of pollution and fisheries on various sea creatures, stop at several tropical ports of call, gaze at the spangled sky far from any human lighting, and hunker down in the cabin during some wildly windy, rainy days.  What a delightful way to learn so much, and develop a thirst to know more.

The journal entries are prolifically illustrated, sometimes with full page, richly colored, glimpses of sea life; sometimes with small cameos of the scientists at work.  Intriguing graphs, helpful diagrams, close-up views, imagined deep-sea realms, all complement the information extremely well.  For upper-elementary and up, perhaps a bit younger if you read aloud a bit at a time, this is a fabulous way to learn, and to lure kids into a life of observing, caring, protecting, exploring the natural world around them.

Here’s the Amazon link:  Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage