Friday, March 12, 2021

We Live on a Water Planet...

The surface of our planet is 70% water and only 30% land. So why is it called "earth"?

Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean 
by Patricia Newman; photos by Annie Crawley
64 pages; ages 9-14
Millbrook Press, 2021

When we look at a globe or a world map, we see five oceans, right? There’s the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean… But, says Patricia Newman, those maps are wrong. The truth is that we have only one ocean, and it’s connected around the world. 

So ... a planet with one large, in places very deep Ocean that scientists are just beginning to explore. And diving into that ocean – at least for this book – is ocean explorer Annie Crawley. Thank goodness she takes us with her on her explorations!

We get to explore the “Coral Triangle” area between Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, and the Philippines. It’s an important habitat, but humans have put these coral reefs (and others) in danger as a result of mining, pollution, unsustainable fishing, and too much carbon dissolving into the water. Patricia dives right into the problems and shows how people are restoring the health of the coastlines in the coral triangle.

We also explore the Salish Sea, off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, and examine the impacts of pollution and ocean acidification. There’s even a trip to the Arctic. The last chapter argues that the ocean’s story is our story. From earliest times, Patricia writes, live began in the oceans. And the ”ocean’s richness continues to make our world possible.” She shows how young people can use their voices and art to speak out and change things for the better.

Yes, there IS back matter (you knew there would be). There are tips for visual storytelling, ways to help the ocean, and notes from the author and photographer. My recommendation: definitely “beach reading” for this summer.

Patricia is one of the authors who contributed to the book, Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep. In it, she says that her themes have to light her fire with a personal connection, a narrative, and a WOW! factor. They need to resonate with her connection to the outdoors, and often they touch on injustice of some kind. So I had to ask her One Question:

Me:  Can you share how your personal connection to the ocean inspired this book? How (and where) it led you?

Patricia: I grew up near water. My hometown in Vermont was on Lake Champlain. We sailed in Mallett's Bay. We swam and fished in lakes and rivers. When we visited my relatives in Rhode Island, we body surfed in the Atlantic Ocean, built sandcastles on the beach, and dug for quahogs with my aunt. My friend's family took me crabbing off the Jersey shore. When I moved to California, I windsurfed, snorkeled, and dove. The ocean is part of my childhood and adult memories, and I associate it with many feel-good moments in my life.

The more I learn about the ocean, the more I want to write about it. I focused on marine debris in Plastic, Ahoy!, and trophic cascades in Sea Otter Heroes. In Planet Ocean, I highlight our connection to the sea. Whether we live near the water or not, we breathe ocean with every breath because phytoplankton in the sea makes much of our oxygen. The ocean provides food, recreation, medicine, and even ensures a healthy global economy through trade. I think back to all my memories and I can't help but feel grateful for our ocean and all it provides. The ocean will live on without us, but we can't live without the ocean. I wrote Planet Ocean to make readers more aware of the ocean as a gift.

Patricia is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. You can find out more about her at her website

Want to dive even deeper? National Geographic Children’s Books is releasing this book in a few days. It celebrates the ocean through pictures, poems, and stories highlighting life on the beach, in the reef, underwater forests of kelp and the deep, and even on the icy edge. One of my favorite spreads: Creatures of the Kelp, featuring bat rays and kelp crabs (and more)

Beneath the Waves
by Stephanie Warren Drimmer 
192 pages; ages -up

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we’ll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It’s over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. Wonderful blog and even more wonderful book! It’s full of inspiration. Thanks!

  2. This sounds like a great book. And the one about debris in the ocean sounds interesting too.

  3. This sounds like a fantastic book! Between all of the facts and all of the photos, I imagine one could spend hours poring over all the details. Thanks for the great post!

  4. It was nice to get a little author background on the book. It's exciting to see so many environmental books coming out for kids. This one sounds like a must have. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  5. I recently learned that that all the oceans are connected and are really one. Doesn't surprise me. This environmental book sounds like a gem for MG students. I love the ocean and watch a lot of documentaries about it, so I know I'd enjoy this beautiful book. Great interview and insight into the author. Thanks for sharing!

  6. This sounds so good! I really like that there's some info about the Salish Sea, which is not far from where I grew up. It's also nice that you added the author's background as well.
    Thanks for a wonderful review!

  7. I love the sound of this book. It sounds like a nonfiction book that would be an excellent addition to my school library. The ocean is SO important and I am always happy to help educate kids on the importance of making our planet even cleaner than it is right now. Thanks for sharing. :)