________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 18. . . .January 20, 2017


Ocean Animals From Head to Tail.

Stacey Roderick. Illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2016.
36 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-77138-345-5.

Subject Heading:
Marine animals-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Gregory Bryan and Stephanie Kaethler.

***½ /4



What ocean animal has a mouth like this?

A blue whale!

This huge animal—the biggest ever known—survives on tons of tiny shrimp-like creatures called krill. When the blue whale eats, it first swallows a mouthful of ocean water. Then, it lets the water flow back out through rows of baleen, the stiff bristles that grow down from the whale’s top jaw. The baleen act like a giant sieve to catch all the tasty krill.


Continuing the series that began with Dinosaurs from Head to Tail, Kids Can Press’ new picture book Ocean Animals from Head to Tail introduces young readers to creatures of the sea. Stacey Roderick and Kwanchai Moriya’s collaboration has resulted in a highly accessible, attractive, and engaging book for young children. As an introductory text, Ocean Animals from Head to Tail is reader-friendly. Yet, the detail and content is expansive. Indeed, in the acknowledgments in the back of the book, credit is given for the assistance provided by a number of marine experts. The book features a variety of specific sea creatures, like the green sea turtle, hammerhead shark, moray eel, sea anemone, and seahorse. This diversity of sea creatures is impressive in that it goes beyond merely describing the ocean as full of fish.

     Roderick’s written text contains many interesting facts that will both educate and entertain readers. Potentially unknown words like prey and predators, for instance, are defined in brackets immediately after use. Additionally, with unfamiliar words, the book explains meaning through context. As evidenced in the excerpt above, the material is presented in a question-and-answer format with a question posed and the answer revealed with the turn of a page. Prompted by the question, children will enjoy making predictions based upon a close-up segment of the sea creature that is revealed in full on the next page. The questions focus on body parts ranging from fins to flippers, tentacles to tails, heads to bodies, and mouths to eyes. The specific body part in question is highlighted, focussing the reader’s attention towards the information following on the next page.

     Roderick’s written text is complemented by Moriya’s Photoshopped mixed media illustrations. Texture adds depth to the artwork. There is a sense of gentle movement in each image which, together with the colour palette consisting of liberal usage of sea blues and greens, is calming. This creates a visually-interesting contrast within the colourful double-page illustrations which are often bright and bold.

     The overall design of the book is strong. Even the ultramarine blue end pages hint at the creatures found within. The text is classroom friendly with the questions large enough to be seen from a distance. This book will make a useful classroom resource because it will serve well as an informational read-aloud.

     We think children, teachers, and parents will enjoy interacting with Ocean Animals from Head to Tail.

Highly Recommended.

Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB. He specializes in children’s literature.

Stephanie Kaethler is a graduate student in the Faculty of Education. She is a Grade One teacher who is currently at home with her nine-month-old son.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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