Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs

Sylvia A. Earle
Illustrator:  Bonnie Matthews 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
National Geographic Children's Books, 2003   ISBN: 0792269535

Coral reefs can be found in the warm clear waters of oceans and seas that lie to the north and to the south of the equator. They are incredibly beautiful places, “rainbow-colored cities,” where the foundation, the reef, is built by tiny coral animals. The animals are soft, but their skeletons are hard, and when thousands of the coral animals live close together, they create all kinds of fantastical structures that over time become huge reefs that can be many miles long.

The reef underwater cities provide millions of creatures with a place to live. Here you will find sponges, mollusks (like clams and squids), sea stars, shrimp, colorful fish of all shapes and sizes, turtles, and others. Even at night, reefs are busy places, and if you explore one at this time, you are likely to “find yourself covered with sparkling lights.” The lights are created by small animals that create their own illumination. It is no wonder that people from all over the world love to visit these extraordinary places.

For this book, Sylvia A. Earle, a well-known marine biologist and conservationist, shows young readers how reefs are formed and how remarkable they are. She also explains that coral reefs are dying in many places, and that we all need to do what we can to save them before it is too late.

With wonderful watercolor illustrations throughout to compliment the interesting text, and an activity to try at the back of the book, this is a title that will help young readers to appreciate how precious coral reefs are.