Apr 16, 2012

Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea


Written by; Helaine Becker

Illustrated by: Willow Dawson

Published by: Kids Can Press

Published on: April 1, 2012

Ages: 4+

Sunday is Earth Day, and this is a holiday that means a lot more to me now that I live in Japan. The disasters on 3/11 and the constant rumbling of our friendly neighbourhood volcano ensure I never forget just how much power Mother Nature has over our lives.

When I was a kid the big thing I worried about was the cold war. I was worried about the US testing nuclear weapons in Canadian airspace, directly flying over my home. I was worried that the US and USSR would set off their nuclear weapons and mutual destruction would mean Canada, and therefore me and my family, would be dead too.

But my kids don't know the cold war. What they do know is that there are rivers that companies like Chisso Corporation have poisoned and we can't go swimming there no matter how inviting it looks. They know that our food options have been reduced in the past year after 3/11. They know that we have to check our food and water to make sure it's safe. Because of this they worry. They worry about the yummy seaweed and whether radiation will kill it all off. They worry because adults worry, but also because they are just learning to grasp their own place in nature.

This book gave me and my kids 3 important things: knowledge about the ocean's creatures and their resilience, control over how they approach the ocean due to their physical experiments, and hope for the future of the world's oceans.

This book is presented as an environmental and science experiment book for older elementary school kids, but a few of the experiments are appropriate even for my kindergarteners. My kids are fascinated by the forming of ice now that they've seen it before their very eyes. It will be great to bring this book out as my children age and we can do experiments that match their interests and age level.

Like many Canadians of my age group, my first introduction to the idea of conservation was through Raffi's Baby Beluga. I was shocked that the little white whale on the go that I sang about was endangered. I was ecstatic to read that through the efforts of the people of Quebec the belugas in the rivers there have made great progress and are an environmental success story! This wasn't just a great book for my kids, it was for me too.

This review was posted for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by The Nonfiction Detectives.

This is the 37th book I have read for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge


  1. Wow, I never even thought how the diaster would affect things like seaweed - perhaps because I don't use it in my cooking as often as you might. It's harrowing to come to that realisation that a food staple may become short in supply.
    Its such a great idea to have a book like this that you can keep bringing out every so often to try new and more advanced experiements.

    1. If you can get your hands on some non-radioactive seaweed, it is really yummy- a lot yummier than it sounds! I'm a big fan of dried Korean nori for snacks, a perfect substitute for chips!

  2. So interesting to read about the pervasive effects of 3/11. It's dropped off the news cycle here (as does everything in our 5 minute attention span culture) - but I will share this with my sixth graders, some of whom have relatives in Japan. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It's even dropping off our news, but it's never far from the front of our minds, even as far as we are from the danger zone. This book does a great job of showing how interrelated everything really is.

  3. Hello. It's nice to share such a lovely book to raise environmental awareness to the little ones. Kids should be exposed to more books such as this so that they are not only aware of what's happening around them but also foster an environment-friendly attitude in them. Thank you for your post. :)

    1. I completely agree! I'm lucky to have this one in our repertoire.

  4. Oh I need to go find this one. Thanks for sharing and linking up. I love when I find a book that I didn't know about.

  5. thanks for linking to Book Sharing Monday!

  6. I like the idea that they provide tools for helping the children to engage in learning, not just telling them the information. The experiments are always a great way for the kids to connect.

    It is important to remind all of us that just because it drops off the news cycle, it remains a part of the lives of those still living it.

  7. Sounds like an interesting book - I'd like to see some examples of the kind of experiments/projects they include.


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