How the Sea Came to Be: (And All the Creatures in It.)

Eerdmans. Apr. 2023. 56p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780802854780.
K-Gr 4–Covering billions of years of Earth’s history, Berne skillfully traces the origins and evolution of the oceans and oceanic life through poetic rhyming text, sparing readers from excessive jargon while allowing millenia to fly by. The text alone is excellent, but pushing the book into the realm of extraordinary are Hall’s enveloping watercolor, gouache, pencil, pastel, and digital illustrations. From scenes of dark volcanic origins to the stormy gray-flooded seas, the pages convey the excitement and volatile climate of a very young Earth. Once life enters the picture, readers are transported into an Escheresque world of seemingly alien early life forms. Eventually, the book arrives at an ocean life familiar to most readers, but Hall treats them to a vision that requires them to turn the book vertically to truly understand the depths that deep-sea creatures inhabit. Very detailed end notes and further resources provide a good jumping-off point for more ocean exploration.
VERDICT From the moment readers open this book and see its beautiful, frenetic endpapers, it’s clear they are in for a fantastic journey into the depths of the ocean. A first-purchase for all collections.

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