Monday, June 24, 2013

Dive Beneath the Surface: Undersea Week

Note from Darcy:  Last week's steampunk entry has been quite popular!  This week, we are going "beneath the surface" of the ocean with our Undersea Week activities and decor!  Our newest staff member, Johanna, demonstrates why she is an excellent addition to our team with the following blog about "marine" lit:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne tells the tale of a fantastic adventure deep beneath the waves in the Nautilus submarine. Captain Nemo, the owner, designer, and constructor of this electric powered submarine takes French scientist Professor Annorax on a journey through the Indian, Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, and Antarctic waters. This classic science fiction tale written in 1870 is full of descriptive narratives of underwater life, shipwrecks, and history.

            Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli blends Greek mythology into a tale of mermaids winning their immortality by obtaining the love of a human male. This beautiful story explores the beginning of the Trojan War from the point of view of a mermaid who abandons her sisters as they sing sailors to their deaths. Sirena swims to the deserted island of Lemnos to live the rest of her life alone away from her murderous kin. She is surprised at the arrival of Philoctetes, friend of Hercules, who had been bitten by a snake sacred to Hera. She saves his life and wins his love and her immortality. This beautiful story captures in so few pages the wonders of integrity, love, and loss.
            Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan is a continuation of the Percy Jackson saga. The second book of the Lost Heroes series, Son of Neptune follows an older Percy who has lost his memory. Percy’s adventures begin as he fights gorgons who will not stay dead. He finds sanctuary in a Roman camp for demigods and is introduced to the Roman form of the gods who are different in temperament than their Grecian aspects. New friends and enemies are found in the Roman camp as well as a dire new prophecy. Will Percy and his new friends be able to release Thanatos and save the world from Gaea’s awakening? Riordan spins an epic tale and introduces new heroes to the list of favorites from the Percy Jackson saga.
Forgive my Fins by Tara Lee Childs is a tale of a mermaid princess, Lily, living on land to experience the life of a normal teenage girl and learn about her mother’s human culture. Unfortunately, mergirls are bound by different rules than humans and when Lily tries to bond with her crush, Brody, she ends up bonding with Quince, her annoying next door neighbor instead. There’s nothing to do but to swim back to her kingdom of Thalassinia to undo the mystical bond that she now shares with the wrong boy. This light hearted, funny novel full of sea puns is followed by Fins are Forever.

            The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova tells the story of a merdude. Swimmer and lifeguard Tristan Hart has realized he has feelings for his best friend, Layla. Unfortunately, he has a reputation as a player. One day on the beach, Tristan’s sucked deep into the ocean by a tidal wave. He wakes three days later with only vague memories of the incident and the sudden itch to get into the water. This itch turns into Tristan’s legs becoming a tail. Totally freaked out by this turn of events, Tristan listens as his mother finally tells him that she was the princess of the Sea Kingdom. This makes Tristan a Sea Prince. Tristan goes on a journey to see his aging grandfather. There, Tristan discovers he has to compete as one of the heirs for pieces of a trident to become the Sea King. This fast-paced story full of mythos and teenage drama is an interesting story with a male point of view meant for older teens.
The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham’s Treasure by Herge is a classic graphic novel from the seventies. Tintin and the rum-drinking Captain Haddock look for Red Rackham’s treasure on land and under the sea. This grapic novel is full of slap-stick type comedy that may appeal to young adult readers.

Scuba Diving by Monty Halls and Miranda Krestovnikoff is a spectacular non-fiction book for anyone who would like to learn more about scuba diving. Somewhere between a how-to book and an encyclopedia entry, this Eyewitness Companions book describes diving techniques, equipment, marine life, where to dive, and so much more! Beautiful underwater photographs illustrate the breathtaking beauty that exists beneath the surface. Especially enjoyable are the easy-to-understand scientific explanations of basic concepts which affect divers such as pressure, buoyancy, tides, currents, and gas exchange. Scuba Diving also presents a list of possible scuba careers, basic equipment care, hand signals for communication, and safety tips.

Ocean by Miranda MacQuitty is an eyewitness book full of great photos and interesting descriptions of a variety of sea life, currents, a geologic look at the ocean floor, technology, and resources that the ocean gives us. Eyewitness books have brief snippets of powerful information that range from very specific to general. These books are great to begin an exploration of a subject without being buried in technical jargon or too much specificity.
Ocean Animals published by NorthWord Press is a non-fiction description of dolphins, manatees, sharks, and whales. Interspersed with beautiful underwater photographs, this book gives a basic overview of scientific information about these amazing creatures including development, examples of different species within the class, habitats, and some fun facts. This is a fairly quick read full of interesting, informative material that will not overwhelm younger readers.

            Close To Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Cappuzo tells the non-fiction tale of a rogue great white shark. The book contains many wonderful articles and dynamically switches back and forth between narrating the shark’s experience including more biological information about great whites and the newsworthy attacks including excerpts from interviews. The photographs of newspaper articles and places give great visual impact while reading. This was an interesting read which gives not only a great factual description of the multiple attacks along the Jersey and New York shore, but gives readers a real sense of the vast difference in clothing, culture, and technology between 1916 and today.

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