Under the Ocean is a very interesting "quick read" for elementary and middle school students. One is easily drawn to the pictures and the short descriptions on each page that coexist with the main text. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to follow the thread of the main text. The book starts by describing the oceans of the world and the different types of life in the three layers. The organization of the first half of the book is clear and informative. The second half of the book describes undersea gardens, coral reefs, predators and prey, migration, spawn and young, people and the oceans, and protecting the reefs and oceans. These are all interesting topics, but they appear to be independent of each other and are neither written nor organized to support the focus of the book. Minor editing changes could correct this problem.
Given the binding selected for the book, the layout of the pictures is a problem. For example, pages 2 and 3 contain a picture of a leaping black marlin, but the fish is in the fold of the pages, and the binding is designed to open so that all that is visible is the tail and part of the snout. The rest of the fish can be seen if the center of the book is pressed down, but the integrity of the binding will then be jeopardized. The map onpages 3 and 4 suffers from the same problem, and part of South America is lost until the book is pressed flat. This problem should have been identified and solved before the volume was published.
The book does not reach its potential, but is still of a good quality for students. Appealing, accurate, and easy to read, Under the Oceanis a compilation of many interesting facts about the briny depths and may provide an incentive for students to study more about a specific topic. Perhaps some of the minor problems will be resolved in future revisions. (from The Natural World Series.) Acceptable, Grades 3-8. REVIEWER: Dr. Linda Hummel Fitzharris (College of Charleston)