Verena Tunnicliffe Ph.D. FRSC
Illustrator: Bruce Cowden
... Recommended ... 4 stars
Near her tidy, hot vent garden
Kira the spider crab cleaned her mandibles after a tasty snack.
Far above is a world Kira will never see. A research steaming
across the ocean waves will cause Kira an adventure she has never
known before. Scientists sometimes lower cameras to take pictures
of the world far below the ship, they lower recorders to take
temperature measurements. Aboard a submersible a scientist spoke
into her dive recorder. Kira watched while a clawed arm on the
submersible deposited a mesh box and a platform on the ocean
floor. With the probes in place and cameras ready the scientist
returned to the ship up on the water's surface. Kira watched
as the young crabs played amongst the things left behind by the
scientist. Kira was not pleased. They have upset the balance
of the garden. Kira set to work rearranging the probes. Octopus
hiding nearby waited for a chance to snag a little crab. The
box left behind by the scientist proved to be a place for fun
and for hiding too. After a time the submersible came back, the
little crabs hurried to the mesh box while Kira faced the strange
'animal'. At last the scientist gathered up the camera and the
temperature recorder; she left the mesh box behind. The scientist
was surprised when she saw the pictures taken by the camera down
on the ocean floor.
"Kira's Undersea Garden"
draws the reader into the narrative from the opening page. Children
are sure to find the tale enjoyable as parents or teachers read
the book aloud to them. Vocabulary is beyond the scope of the
youngest readers, however cuddled on Dad's lap, or gathered near
the teacher during 'story time' will find the 5 - 7 set fascinated
to see something of the world they did not realize existed down
on the ocean floor. Kids reading on grade 4 or 5 level should
be able to read the book for themselves with little need to ask
for help. "Kira's Undersea Garden" has a place in the
home and school library. Youngsters will enjoy hearing the story
read to them, and will turn to the book for 'pleasure reading'
even when they cannot actually read the words as yet.
Writer Tunnicliffe, a deep sea
biologist at the University of Victoria, Canada offers a fascinating
glimpse into the extraordinary world found far below the ocean
surface. "Kira's Undersea Garden" is sure to find a
ready audience among the 5-11 year old set. Spider crabs are
one of the lesser known species. Tunnicliffe's obvious knowledge
and admiration for the little creatures come through her writing.
Bo'sun aboard the Research Vessel Ron Brown a part of the NOAA
fleet in the United States, Bruce Cowden's illustrations are
perfect for the work. Tunnicliffe has added several photos of
actual spider crabs as well; I like that.
"Kira's Undersea Garden"
is a book I would gladly use in my own Kindergarten/First grade
I plan to take the edition to
work with me: today my occupation is working with adult, mentally
retarded, beginning readers. I know I will find a happy audience
for "Kira's Undersea Garden" there.