Published by Thames & Hudson, 2018.
I’m a big fan of Yuval Zommer’s books, and The Big Book of the Blue is particularly fabulous. It’s the third in the series; Yuval has previously written and illustrated The Big Book of Bugs and The Big Book of Beasts.
After an introduction to the different ocean families (molluscs, mammals, crustaceans etc), and pages about fins and flippers, gills and blowholes, The Big Book of The Blue then presents a vast array of sea creatures. Lesser known animals such as dragonets, gulper eels and boxfish are included alongside more familiar animals such as whales, penguins, crabs and octopuses. Each animal gets a fully illustrated double page spread. The accompanying text always begins with a question: what makes a pufferfish puff, why does a crab run sideways, does a ray make electricity? The facts that are dotted about the pages are interesting and accessible. There’s lots of original content too; I discovered loads of new things. For example, sometimes krill form big swarms that make the sea look pink. These krill swarms have been seen from space! A sperm whale can hold its breath for two hours, and no two seahorse crowns (or coronets) are the same – just like human fingerprints. Sea turtles can eat jellyfish without getting stung and they have see-through eyelids to see underwater. It’s all pretty amazing stuff.
Yuval’s illustrations are stunning: gloriously detailed, richly textured and vibrant. You’ll find yourself poring over them for hours. Two illustrations in particular stood out for me: the krill shimmering under the sea’s surface, and the glowing jellyfish warning off predators. Both animals actually glow in the dark and Yuval’s pictures really do appear to glow. There’s a lovely interactive element to the book’s illustrations too; the same sardine is hidden 15 times throughout the book for the reader to find.
There’s also a very important environmental message running throughout the book. The reader is invited to spot something that doesn’t belong in the dolphins’ habitat (litter) and the book ends by exploring how humankind is damaging the oceans, with a particular focus on plastic pollution.
The book works really well as a reference book; there’s a nicely detailed index, a glossary (ingeniously presented as ‘Fishy Phrases: How to talk like a sea life expert), and a handy contents page.
This book is a wonderful celebration of ocean life and a timely reminder of our responsibility to protect it.
Suitable for children aged 6+
Thank you to Thames & Hudson for sending me this book to review.