Kira’s Undersea Garden by Verena Tunnicliffe Ph.D. FRSC

 

ChildrenNonfictionKira's Undersea Garden Kira’s Undersea GardenVerena Tunnicliffe; Trafford Publishing 2003WorldCatIllustrated by Bruce Cowden

Review by Molly

Near her tidy, hot vent garden Kira the spider crab cleaned her mandibles after a tasty snack. Far above is a world Kira will never see. A research steaming across the ocean waves will cause Kira an adventure she has never known before. Scientists sometimes lower cameras to take pictures of the world far below the ship, they lower recorders to take temperature measurements. Aboard a submersible a scientist spoke into her dive recorder. Kira watched while a clawed arm on the submersible deposited a mesh box and a platform on the ocean floor. With the probes in place and cameras ready the scientist returned to the ship up on the water’s surface.

Kira watched as the young crabs played amongst the things left behind by the scientist. Kira was not pleased. They have upset the balance of the garden. Kira set to work rearranging the probes. Octopus hiding nearby waited for a chance to snag a little crab. The box left behind by the scientist proved to be a place for fun and for hiding too. After a time the submersible came back, the little crabs hurried to the mesh box while Kira faced the strange ‘animal’. At last the scientist gathered up the camera and the temperature recorder; she left the mesh box behind. The scientist was surprised when she saw the pictures taken by the camera down on the ocean floor.

Kira’s Undersea Garden draws the reader into the narrative from the opening page. Children are sure to find the tale enjoyable as parents or teachers read the book aloud to them. Vocabulary is beyond the scope of the youngest readers, however cuddled on Dad’s lap, or gathered near the teacher during ‘story time’ will find the 5 – 7 set fascinated to see something of the world they did not realize existed down on the ocean floor. Kids reading on grade 4 or 5 level should be able to read the book for themselves with little need to ask for help. Kira’s Undersea Garden has a place in the home and school library. Youngsters will enjoy hearing the story read to them, and will turn to the book for ‘pleasure reading’ even when they cannot actually read the words as yet.

Writer Tunnicliffe, a deep sea biologist at the University of Victoria, Canada offers a fascinating glimpse into the extraordinary world found far below the ocean surface. Kira’s Undersea Garden is sure to find a ready audience among the 5-11 year old set. Spider crabs are one of the lesser known species. Tunnicliffe’s obvious knowledge and admiration for the little creatures come through her writing. Bo’sun aboard the Research Vessel Ron Brown a part of the NOAA fleet in the United States, Bruce Cowden’s illustrations are perfect for the work. Tunnicliffe has added several photos of actual spider crabs as well; I like that.

Kira’s Undersea Garden is a book I would gladly use in my own Kindergarten/First grade classroom. I plan to take the edition to work with me: today my occupation is working with adult, mentally retarded, beginning readers. I know I will find a happy audience for Kira’s Undersea Garden there.

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