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Down, down, down : a journey to the bottom of the sea

by Steve Jenkins


Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780618966363]

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Gr 3–6—Starting at the surface of the Pacific Ocean, Jenkins introduces some of the animals that inhabit descending layers of water all the way down to the Marianas Trench. At nearly 36,000 feet, this zone has been visited only once, by human passengers of a research vessel. Depicted in Jenkins's signature handsome collages, the denizens of each level swim against ever-darkening backgrounds ranging from sunny blue to deepest black. Each double-page segment begins with a paragraph or two explaining the growing degree of darkness, cold, and pressure, and how all of these affect the lives of the resident creatures. A bar running down the far right of each scene indicates depth. Usually three or four animals—whales, fish, worms, and more—are featured. Sometimes colorful or luminescent and often toothy, they are both familiar and strange. In some views, the animals are relative in size, but in others, those that are actually quite different in scale appear to be similar. At the end of the book, an added paragraph about each scene takes up the matter of size. Here length is stated, and silhouettes compare each creature to either an adult human's hand or a full body. The bold views tend to emphasize the weirdness of these little-known species, but the repeated message that humans have much to explore and learn in the deeper ocean is intriguing and inviting. This is a good complement to Sneed B. Collard's The Deep-Sea Floor (Charlesbridge, 2003), which introduces some of the same animals and offers more information about recent exploration.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 0618966366]

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From BookList, April 1, 2009, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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In this plunge into the deep, Jenkins displays his usual keen awareness of what is fascinating about biology and imparts it without sensationalism-the facts speak for themselves. Light becomes an impossibility only a tiny fraction of the way down into the ocean, and the deeper this book goes, the darker the palette and the scarier and stranger the beast encountered. Sophisticated cut- and torn-paper collage-work fit the alien qualities of the subjects well; it's equally at home capturing the tiered needlepoints of lizardfish teeth as it is delivering an impressive and illuminating display of bioluminescence. The scale of just how staggeringly deep the ocean is, and how little we know of much beyond what happens at the surface, is conveyed by sidebars on each page that drop precipitously from sea level to the ocean floor many miles below. Thorough endnotes give greater detail on each of the featured creatures and help make this a most welcome introduction to the sometimes-surprising world of marine biology. Chipman, Ian.

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