OK, now we’re starting to get into more specific ocean inhabitants. We’ll be focusing on cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) this week before moving on to molluscs in the next installation. And while we’re on this topic, something exciting’s going to be coming to FYL on Mondays for the next few weeks throughout the summer, so this series is going to be coming in slightly more sporadic spurts as a result. Now, onto cetaceans! I’m going to be highlighting a few different types of books so that hopefully everyone will be able to find something that suits their reading needs, from those who absolutely adore reading scholarly articles to those who are interested in something with a bit more narrative, whether it be fiction or memoir.
Starting off with something that probably has the greatest appeal in terms of how broad its audience might be, The Stranded Whale by Jane Yolen is a great book with which to complement the ROM’s whale exhibit! Yolen & Cataldo have done a wonderful job in depicting the little girl and her experience with a beached whale, continuing to explore how this event has affected the girl and her community. The Stranded Whale tugs at your heartstrings while providing some facts about stranding at the end after the story, which I think is a great way to start discussion about strandings as well as about whales in general. Going to the ROM would be great either before or after this book, as you’ll learn all about one of the possible futures for the whale that got stranded in this book: having its bones live at a museum.
A great follow-up for an older audience would be The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins, which I’ll discuss in more detail below, where you will learn that some whales actually beach on purpose. (No, they’re not trying to commit suicide… or are they?)
This is one of those beautiful books that begs to be picked up – I mean, just look at that cover! – and absorbed in wonder. While it’s most certainly not the type of book you might want carrying around in your bag while you’re out and about (although that’s totally personal preference, and I will concede there might exist someone who likes to lug around tomes in their bags while out running errands or just going around town), the size of the book was definitely a good choice; although there are also a few essays throughout the book, I believe the photographs are what the readers are here for, and the size of the book itself make it so that every beautiful colours jump out at you and every detail – every tentacle, arm, eye, and other appendages – is presented with incredible clarity.
The second installment of the Dive Into Reading series is, as you might have by now surmised, Spineless, by Susan Middleton.
I’ve been absolutely hooked by underwater sea creatures as of late*, ranging from molluscs bearing their beautiful shells to the octopuses, as pictured on the cover above (except that’s actually not very wide a range at all: octopuses/octopodes are molluscs – they’ve simply lost their shells a while back). The sea slugs and snails are also quite a sight, with an amazing range of patterns that adorn their bodies, and an equally wide range of roles they play in the ocean. And then the ROM Blue Whale exhibit pops up (which Lily blogged about previously). Followed by The Stranded Whale popping up in my periphery while I was looking for some picture books on death (of which Duck, Death and the Tulip was a part). I think the universe is telling me something. So I dove into reading about marine creatures (I have yet to surface, actually). Instead of posting a disproportionate number of reviews of books about oceanic dwellers, I figured it would make more sense (and be easier to follow) if I were to organize it into a series, so look out for more Dive into Reading posts!
I’ll be starting off with these three, which are more general books about ocean life, before moving onto other topics (see way down below, after the cut, for a list of what’s the come):
- Do Whales Get the Bends? by Tony Rice
- Sex, Drugs and Sea Slime by Ellen Prager
- The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen R. Palumbi & Anthony R. Palumbi
Also, just a quick note so everyone knows where I’m coming from and how that affects my reading of these (and following posts about the oceans and their inhabitants): I’ve read at least a good handful of books in this area, and by the time you read 3-4 books that focus either generally (as below) or otherwise (as I will cover later) on ocean life, you’ll notice some repetition and similarities in both the method of organization as well as the content covered. If you’ve never delved into this topic before, don’t let my comments about some of these titles not being in-depth enough for myself stop you! I have learned something new with each of these titles, so here’s to hoping you will, too! Continue reading