Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle

The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle

Lynne Cherry
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004   ISBN: 978-0374364823

One day, as a pelican lands on the branch of a mangrove tree, the large bird knocks a mangrove seed, or propagule, into the sea. Soon the little seed is being carried to a distant lagoon where it takes root and grows. For many years the tree grows and grows and by the time it is fifty it has a large root system which stretches down and around into the salty sea water. This roots system provides a perfect home for all kinds of creatures. Snails browse on algae which grows on the roots, anemones and coral settle on the roots and make them their home. Sea grass grows in between and round the roots providing the perfect nursery for many creatures including baby fish, crustaceans, and sea horses. In the branches above, insects buzz and sip from large flowers, and birds build their nests.

Over time the one tree turns into a small island of mangrove trees, a home for animals and plants of all kinds and a valuable resource for local fishermen. When a great hurricane sweeps across the ocean the mangrove tangle gives refuge to many and though it is damaged by the waves and the wind, the mangrove island survives and recovers.

This lovingly created and carefully researched book will help young readers see how animals and plants are dependent on one another. They will get a sense of how ecosystems are built and how valuable many ecosystems are not just for the environment but also for humans. Without the mangrove tangle, fish, shrimp and other animals would not have a suitable place to lay their eggs and harbor their young, and therefore fisherman would have little to pull up in their nets.

Mangrove tangles all over the world are in danger and in a section at the back of the book the author invites her readers to help save these beautiful, diverse, and very valuable ecosystems from destruction.