World Without Fish

( 2 )


Mark Kurlansky, beloved author of the award-winning bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, offers a riveting new book for kids about what’s happening to fish, the oceans, and our environment, and what, armed with knowledge, kids can do about it.

Written by a master storyteller, World Without Fish connects all the dots—biology, economics, evolution, politics, climate, history, culture, food, and nutrition—in a way that kids can really understand. It ...

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Mark Kurlansky, beloved author of the award-winning bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, offers a riveting new book for kids about what’s happening to fish, the oceans, and our environment, and what, armed with knowledge, kids can do about it.

Written by a master storyteller, World Without Fish connects all the dots—biology, economics, evolution, politics, climate, history, culture, food, and nutrition—in a way that kids can really understand. It describes how the fish we most commonly eat, including tuna, salmon, cod, and swordfish, could disappear within 50 years, and the domino effect it would have—oceans teeming with jellyfish and turning pinkish orange from algal blooms; seabirds disappearing, then reptiles, then mammals. It describes the back-and-forth dynamic of fishermen and scientists. It covers the effects of industrialized fishing, and how bottom-dragging nets are turning the ocean floor into a desert.

The answer? Support sustainable fishing. World Without Fish tells kids exactly what they can do: Find out where those fish sticks come from. Tell your parents what’s good to buy, and what’s not. Ask the waiter if the fish on the menu is line-caught And follow simple rules: Use less plastic, and never eat endangered fish like bluefin tuna.

Interwoven with the book is a full-color graphic novel. Each beautifully illustrated chapter opener links to form a larger fictional story that complements the text. Hand in hand, they create a Silent Spring for a new generation.

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  • World Without Fish
    World Without Fish  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kurlansky (The Cod's Tale) offers an urgent account of the problems that threaten the world's oceans and could result in the commercial extinction of key species of fish in the next 50 years. It's an alarming statement, underscored by the book's design: on most pages, key sentences (and sometimes not-so-key ones) appear in an enormous, all-caps font, the typographical equivalent of a fire alarm ("THIS IS CALLED A SUSTAINABLE FISHERY. THIS IS THE REAL ANSWER TO OVERFISHING"). Kurlansky opens by outlining the problem—overfishing is resulting in "a massive shifting in the natural order of the planet"—before discussing the cultural, political, and industrial factors that have led to current conditions. Sidebars profile various fish as well as key historical moments, and the narrative is further broken up by comic book panels that tell the earnest story of Kram, a fictional scientist, and his daughter, Ailat, who witness the very destruction Kurlansky describes, as species vanish and the oceans turn slimy and orange with the resurgence of algae and krill. It's a dire vision, and Kurlansky's few suggestions (support sustainable fishing, become an activist) may not be much comfort. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Michael Jung PhD
Billed as a "Silent Spring for the next generation," World Without Fish provides a straightforward primer about the nature of evolution, the direct role humans have in affecting evolution, and the way our overfishing, polluting, and global warming practices are impacting the oceans, the weather, and ultimately humanity's continued existence. Readers will learn how as the planet's temperature, food sources, and weather patterns changes, certain species (such as the jellyfish) will begin to flourish even as other animals (like the fish that feed on jellyfish) die out. Yet while these evolutionary processes normally take thousands or even millions of years to occur, Kurlansky reveals how human overfishing is radically speeding up this process by depleting the oceans of their fish, which in turn kills off insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals as they lose their food sources. Other chapters examine overfishing in more detail, by exploring how new inventions, such as beam trawlers (that haul huge nets for trapping more fish) and gas and steam engines allow fishermen to expand their fishing grounds and catch fish too quickly for the ocean to replenish the populations. In between the chapters, Kurlansky and Stockton offer a multi-part comic strip that follows a father and daughter as they gradually see their beloved ocean become depleted of the usual sea life, resulting in massive and often unpleasant changes to the sea and land. And while many of the facts the authors present forecast a bleak potential future, Kurlansky and Stockton also offer hope by encouraging young readers to help save fish populations by buying only fish caught in sustainable fisheries, not eating endangered fish, or even organizing picket lines around stores or restaurants that sell endangered fish species. While aimed at middle readers and young adults, the book is an excellent source of information for any teacher, parent, librarian, or adult interested in learning more about the role oceans and sea life play in the survival of multiple species, and how human activities threaten this survival. A good book that should be introduced to children at an early age. Reviewer: Michael Jung, PhD
Kirkus Reviews

The author ofCod (1997) successfully provides readers with a frightening look at the looming destruction of the oceans. Brief sections in graphic-novel format follow a young girl, Ailat, and her father over a couple of decades as the condition of the ocean grows increasingly dire, eventually an orange, slimy mess mostly occupied by jellyfish and leatherback turtles. At the end, Ailat's young daughter doesn't even know what the word fish means. This is juxtaposed against nonfiction chapters with topics including types of fishing equipment and the damage each causes, a history of the destruction of the cod and its consequences, the international politics of the fishing industry and the effects of pollution and global warming. The final chapter lists of some actions readers could take to attempt to reverse the damage: not eating certain types of fish, joining environmental groups, writing to government officials, picketing seafood stores that sell endangered fish, etc. Whenever an important point is to be made, font size increases dramatically, sometimes so that a single sentence fills a page—attention-getting but distractingly so. While it abounds with information, sadly, no sources are cited, undermining reliability. Additionally, there are no index and no recommended bibliography for further research, diminishing this effort's value as a resource. Depressing and scary yet grimly entertaining. (Nonfiction/graphic-novel hybrid. 10 & up)

Pamela Paul
Smartly packaged for budding environmentalists and nascent vegans, World Without Fish combines zoology, oceanography, politics, food and global warming into a readable narrative.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761156079
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 109,097
  • Age range: 9 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Kurlansky

Mark Kurlansky is a former commercial fisherman and New York Times bestselling author of Cod, Salt, The Big Oyster, and other books. He’s won numerous awards, including the James A. Beard Award, ALA Notable Book Award, and New York Public Library Best Books of the Year Award. He lives with his wife and daughter in New York City and Gloucester, Massachusetts. His website is

Frank Stockton is an artist and illustrator whose work has appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Blessed with extraordinary narrative skills, journalist and bestselling author Mark Kurlansky is one of a burgeoning breed of writers who has turned a variety of eclectic, offbeat topics into engaging nonfiction blockbusters.

Kurlansky worked throughout the 1970s and '80s as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Mexico. He spent seven years covering the Caribbean for the Chicago Tribune and transformed the experience into his first book. Published in 1992, A Continent of Islands was described by Kirkus Reviews as "[a] penetrating analysis of the social, political, sexual, and cultural worlds that exist behind the four-color Caribbean travel posters."

Since then, Kurlansky has produced a steady stream of bestselling nonfiction, much of it inspired by his longstanding interest in food and food history. (He has worked as a chef and a pastry maker and has written award-winning articles for several culinary magazines.) Among his most popular food-centric titles are the James Beard Award winner Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (1997), Salt: A World History (2002), and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell (2006). All three were adapted into illustrated children's books.

In 2004, Kurlansky cast his net wider with 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, an ambitious, colorful narrative history that sought to link political and cultural revolutions around the world to a single watershed year. While the book itself received mixed reviews, Kurlanski's storytelling skill was universally praised. In 2006, he published the scholarly, provocative critique Nonviolence: Twenty-five Lessons From the History of a Dangerous Idea. It received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Despite occasional forays into fiction (the 2000 short story collection The White Man in the Tree and the 2005 novel Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue), Kurlansky's bailiwick remains the sorts of freewheeling colorful, and compulsively readable micro-histories that 21st-century readers cannot get enough of.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 7, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Hartford, CT
    1. Education:
      Butler University, B.A. in Theater, 1970

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 17, 2012

    NOT FOR NOOK HD (no PagePerfect, i.e. graphically enhanced, book

    NOT FOR NOOK HD (no PagePerfect, i.e. graphically enhanced, books are).  
    They don't tell you this when you purchase a NOOK HD - which is the updated version of the Nook Color.

    The newest reader gets fewer compatible books, and none with enhanced graphics!  Nice.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2012

    A must read for everyone!

    All children as well as adults should read this excellent book. We are rapidly depleting the fish in our oceans, and we must do something about it NOW! The first step is to find out just how this is happening, and this book explains just what is going on. The format is appealing to children, but informative for adults. A must read for everyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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