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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tide Pool Books

Quite unintentionally, we managed to explore the tide pools along the Oregon coast a few weeks ago.  Devil's Punchbowl area and Yaquina Head's Cobble Beach tide pools were breath-taking, with marine biologists and naturalists sharing information about the creatures found there.

Following this field trip, we were inspired to read some children's books on the topic, reinforcing our hands-on observations, informing us about those tricky barnacles and mussels and anemones, among others, and clarifying that Sea Star is a more appropriate name and not Starfish as it is not really a fish.

Shells: Treasures of the Sea by Leonard Hill was an instant favorite, still at home after a few successful renewals from the library. 

The only thing that confused the 7 year old was whether "tidepool" is one compound word or should it be two separate words, "tide pool", or perhaps hyphenated," tide-pool"?

In One Tidepool
Crabs, Snails and Salty Tails
by Anthony D. Fredericks
illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio

Dear Two-Armed Explorer, the book opens, with a full-page message from our five-armed buddy, Sea Star about its habitat, the tidepool.

The illustrations are gorgeous leading us from the coastline of pounding waves to little pockets of water filled by tides where wondrous creatures thrive.

A curly-haired girl with wondering eyes
Found crabs and fish and a five-armed surprise...

Ana instantly took to it, identifying with this little curly-haired explorer. Og liked the repetitive text and the illustrations.

The book has cumulative rhyming text - we start with barnacles, then fish, then anemones and so on... as we progress the verses grow as well, just describing the tidepool scene with its inhabitants in brief sentences.

Though not a book to get detailed information about these creatures, the crisp lines highlight the characteristics of each animal well.

Beside the sponge upon the ledge
(a curious creature from edge to edge),
Close to anemone with stinging cells,
The ones who grip the rocks and shells...

[image source:]

Ocean Soup: Tide-Pool Poems
by Stephen R. Swinburne
illustrated by Mary Peterson

Cartoon style comic illustrations and short rhyming verses makes this a fun book to read aloud.

As the book's website says, Crabs will pinch and urchins poke. It's rough out there - no joke!

Sea slug being one of Og's favorites, Hello my name is Doris. I am a shell-less gastropod, but you can call me Doris if gastropod is odd, got memorized first.

[image source: author website]

Between the Tides
by Fran Hodgkins
illustrated by Jim Sollers

If you lived where the sea was
and then, wasn't... 
you could

Twice a day, the sea recedes leaving the sea creatures out on the shore to fend for themselves until they can get back in the ocean again. What happens when the tide is low? How do the creatures manage without water? That is what this book explores in a child-friendly way, with just enough details so as  not to overwhelm.

you could...
keep a little bit of the sea with you.

We learn that the Blue Mussel traps a bit of sea water and closes tight when the sea recedes, not much water, but enough for it to survive till the tide comes back.

The large full page illustrations and short simple text makes it a wonderful read for the four year old.

[image source:]

One Small Place by the Sea
by Barbara Brenner
illustrated by Tom Leonard

A little girl sits by the ocean at low tide on a fine morning, with an idyllic lighthouse in the horizon and puffy white clouds in the sky against which a few gulls hover, dipping her finger into a tiny puddle of water teeming with flora and fauna.

A tide pool.
One small place-
this one's no bigger than a bathtub

Thus open this beautiful book that invites the young readers with

Imagine standing at the 
rim of this tide pool as
the tide come in.

What do you see?

We zoom in closer in the following pages and discover sea stars and mussels and hermit crabs and anemones and branacles and urchins and periwinkles and sculpin and nudibranchia and limpets and chiton... even sea lettuce with velvety mats of algae.

The food chain in this habitat is wonderfully explained in this book.

Mussles gulp in the plankton-rich sea water, straining it so plankton is in water is out.

Barnacles join the plankton feast, waving their feet to kick bits of food into themselves.

Sea star pries open a mussel, just enough to put its stomach out and "eat" the slimy mussel inside.

Turban snail glides by unawares when the deadly tentacles of the anemone trap it and eat it, spitting out the empty shell.

A hermit crab finds the new empty shell and makes it its home.

We learn that sculpin, a strange fish, can live out of water for a few hours, breathing air! He can even use his front fins as legs and "walk" on rock looking for tiny shrimp and sea spiders the the tide left behind.

A sea star might eat all the mussels in which case there won;t be any mussels left in the tide pool; or a gull might feast on the sea stars, leaving the mussel population unchecked; some things get squeezed out, something die. The tide pool is always changing.

The book ends with the setting sun showing the girl smiling, happy to have met all the wonderful tide pool creatures.

Star of the Sea
A day in the life of a starfish
illustrated by Joan Paley

The gorgeous illustrations attracted me to the book, and the story it revealed fascinated not just the kids but me as well.

A day in the life of a starfish sea star. Its tiny tube-like feet on the underside helps it move, albeit very slowly. She inches her way towards a bed of mussels. But how can she eat it when the hard shell protects them?

We learn that she uses her strong rays (arms) to pry apart the stubbornly closed mussel shell, and as soon as there is a small enough crack she extends her stomach right out of her mouth and into the tiny crack. Slowly, the mussel's small body into liquid right inside the shell. when she has thus done eating, only the empty mussel shell remains.

Another fascinating fact we learnt is that sea stars can have any number of rays or arms, not just five as it traditionally depicted. And when she loses a ray, she can grow it back over a period of time.

Back of the book has further information like how sea star babies come about, and the eyespots at the tip of the ray that helps it tell light from dark and so on.

[image source: author website]

[cross-posted at Saffron Tree]

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