Friday, January 6, 2023

Dive into a Deep Ocean Adventure

at the bottom
of the Pacific Ocean
lies a secret place.

Deep, Deep Down: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench 
by Lydia Lukidis; illus by Juan Calle Velez 
40 pages; ages 7-10
Capstone, 2023

theme: ocean, animals, exploration

This book is the perfect “armchair adventure” story: you start at the ocean’s surface and then dive deep, deep down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Which is the deepest part of the earth’s surface. The lyrical language and spare text give this underwater adventure a feeling of poetry, as if we are swaying in water like strands of sea plants. Or the arms of crinoids. 

Yep, crinoids! I thought they were all dead and fossilized, like the ones I dig out of my garden every spring. But no- they are alive and well and feeding 25,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. 

What I like about this book: I like the way Lydia describes how it feels being so far down in the ocean. She compares the increased water pressure to a thick, heavy blanket with a thousand hands pressing down. I like how there’s a text box on one side of the spread that’s a depth counter, and on the other side there’s more information about the featured creature. 

On this spread, the depth is 31,000 feet (9,449 m), where you can find amphipods. They are tiny crustaceans, around an inch long, though they can grow nearly a foot long in the upper regions of the trench. 

And of course there is back matter! Lydia shares how she came to write the book in an author note, as well as more about the Mariana Trench and its importance in the ocean ecosystem. There’s also a wonderfully illustrated chart showing which animals can be found at which levels in the trench.

Lydia graciously answered A Couple Questions about life in the trench.

Me: What made you want to write about the deepest part of the ocean?

Lydia: Like many others, I’m drawn to and curious about the unknown, especially places that I can’t visit myself. The deepest spot in the ocean was a topic I felt certain I wanted to write about. I’m also interested in space and anything cosmic. The deep sea and space are very common themes in kidlit books, so the trick is you set your book apart somehow. Luckily, there aren’t many kidlit books about the Mariana Trench so it worked out well.

Me: What surprised you most as you researched the creatures that live way, deep down in the water?

Lydia: Great question! In my initial research, I read that seadevil anglerfish roamed the trench and I was so excited to feature them. But when I interviewed experts, I discovered they can’t survive the intense pressure deep down. In fact, none of the initial “terrifying” creatures that I found on the internet actually lived in the trench. (A lot of information on the internet about the Mariana Trench is false). The most surprising element to me was how poetic, slow moving, jelly-like, and beautiful the creatures actually are. I was mesmerized and decided the text should be equally lyrical.

Kathy Halsey had a wonderful conversation with Lydia about her new book. You can read it over at the GROG blog. And you can check out Lydia's book trailer here.

Beyond the Books:

Find out more about the Mariana Trench. You can read about it online at NOAA.

What would a map of the deepest place on Earth look like? That’s what Dawn Wright, a marine geologist, is trying to find out. Read about her project to map a slice of the trench.

Draw a picture, or build a model of a submersible that you could use to explore the deepest part of the ocean. Then dive down into the trench with this BBC video.

Lydia is a member of #STEAMTeam2023. She is the author of more than 50 trade and educational books for children, including The Broken Bees Nest (nominated for a Cybils Award). A science enthusiast from a young age, she now incorporates her studies in science and her everlasting curiosity into her books. Her next book takes readers up above the atmosphere. Look for Dancing Through Space: Dr. Mae Jemison Soars to New Heights (Albert Whitman, 2024).

You can find out more about Lydia at her website. She's active on twitter (@LydiaLukidis) and Facebook and also posts on her blog, Blissfully Bookish.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review pdf provided by the publisher.


  1. Lydia and Juan made such a beautiful book. I'm glad it's getting the exposure it deserves! Kids are going to find it fascinating!

  2. One more thing: I think that teachers will love hearing Lydia talk about how so much of the information she found on the Internet was false. A great lesson for kids who think places like Wikipedia are the Alpha and Omega of their research.

    1. It is a beautiful book. And yes, it is discouraging to realize that some of the "commonly known" stuff is actually not common nor actually "known".

  3. Sue, I agree with Jilanne. Teachers, and kids, will find it very interesting to hear how much was wrong. (Other writers, too). Funny you and Susanna featuring the same beautiful book! Loved both of your posts.

    1. what a fun surprise! And also fun to see how two different people relate to the same book.

  4. Thanks for having me, Sue!!! It was a pleasure. Jilanne- thanks for the shout out as well. I try teaching that point to my daughter when I see her researching a presentation and see her using Wikipedia (and only tat!!). I tell her, stay away from that one, and use varied sources Cross check the facts.

    1. It's frustrating when many people rely on the same incorrect information as their source - and then you see it repeated in place after place. Asking good questions is important. So is knowing where to find good answers.