Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

One Night in the Coral Sea

One Night in the Coral Sea

Sneed B. Collard III
Illustrator:  Robin Brickman 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2006   ISBN: 978-1570913907

Every year in late spring, “a few days after the full moon,” something extraordinary happens on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reef is the largest of its kind in the world, and it is made up of 2,800 different reefs, each one of which is unique. The reefs were built by tiny coral animals, and they provide countless creatures with a home. Turtles, sharks, fish, invertebrates, whales, dugongs, and other animals swim and glide through the water, creating a colorful and fascinating underwater world.

The special event that takes here in the spring is called a “mass spawning event.” The coral polyps open up and “egg packets escape and float like balloons up toward the sea surface.” Soon the water is full of millions upon millions of egg packets. The packets open and release the eggs into the water, which are fertilized by tiny sperm that have also been released by the coral polyps.

The eggs that are fertilized then begin a long journey that, for some, will end when a tiny coral polyp larvae settles down to begin building a new section of reef. Many of the eggs and larvae provide fish and other creatures with a valuable source of food. For them, this mass spawning event is an opportunity to get a nourishing meal.

In this remarkable book Sneed B. Collard III and Robin Brickman combine their talents to give young readers a singular book experience. The text is easy to follow, packed with fascinating information, and it will help young readers to understand what a coral reef is and how it is made by millions of tiny animals.

Robin Brickman’s extraordinary watercolors are given an added dimension because she has added cut paper collage to her art to give the illustrations depth and detail. Readers of all ages will be transported by the beauty and intricacy of the art.