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Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  589 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she's designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls "the blue heart of the planet." With st ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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The Tree Lady by H. Joseph HopkinsJosephine by Patricia Hruby PowellThe Librarian of Basra by Jeanette WinterMe...Jane by Patrick McDonnellLife in the Ocean by Claire A. Nivola
Picture Books About Outstanding Women
5th out of 293 books — 42 voters
Extra Yarn by Mac BarnettAnd Then It's Spring by Julie FoglianoGreen by Laura Vaccaro SeegerThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William JoyceThis is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
2013 Mock Caldecott
38th out of 97 books — 241 voters

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Community Reviews

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Feb 05, 2013 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an intriguing biography of a woman who has spent much of her life in, around and under water. I love that the story depicts a strong, independent woman who is both passionate about her field of study, but also highly successful, too.

The narrative is just the right length to teach children about her accomplishments without being too detailed, boring, or overwhelming. The illustrations are wonderful, too, and we paused reading the story several times to allow our girls to pick out their f
Destinee Sutton
I think this book hits an awkward spot in terms of recommending it to kids. It doesn't have enough information to satisfy older readers, but the vocabulary and sentence structures would be really challenging for a younger reader. I suppose I'd put it in the 3rd to 5th grade range.

The story is a very basic outline of the life of oceanographer Sylvia Earle, covering briefly her childhood on a farm, her family's move to Florida near the ocean, her love of exploring ocean life, and some of her prof
Stefanie Skrdla
1. "These Seas Count" by Allison Formento & illustrated by Sarah Snow, 2013.

2. I selected "These Seas Count" as my twin text because I thought it was a great example of action steps students could take after reading about Sylvia Earle's passion for the sea and sea creatures. After learning about Sylvia Earle's work, I know some students will be very excited and energetic about the topic of the ocean, and be curious about how this relates to them. Even though we don't live near an ocean, we d
Jim Erekson
Feb 20, 2013 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
When I was teaching 2nd-3rd grade with Marianne McWhirter, she read aloud from Eugenie Clark: Shark Lady. I always enjoyed how well-rounded that book was as a biography. Nivola's telling of Sylvia Earle's interest in the ocean provides a strong main character who is a woman scientist. Earle's interests and punctuated moments from her career provide the structure for the book, and go a long way toward humanizing the water so inhospitable to humans.

The painting style was enjoyable, with a breatht
Darshana Khiani (Flowering Minds)
There are plenty of books on oceanography and explorers, but this book stole my heart with its soft-hued, detailed illustrations and easy-to-understand, inspiring text. Nivola documents Sylvia’s early childhood from growing up on the Gulf Coast, where Sylvia fell in love with the water, to the historic walk along the ocean floor. This book will make you fall in love with the ocean and its beautiful creatures, and inspire kids to follow their passions.

I love Nivola’s use of language. She just doe
Roberta Gibson
May 02, 2012 Roberta Gibson rated it really liked it
Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by author/illustrator Claire A. Nivola is a lovely new picture book biography of a pioneer of in the field of ocean studies.

If you have never heard of Sylvia Earle, she is a scientist and conservationist whose goals in life have been to delve deeply into the oceans and learn as much as she can, and then share her passion and knowledge with others. As Nivola quotes in her extensive Author’s Note in the back matter, Earle realizes, “You c
In some respects this picture book biography of Sylvia Earle is as much the story of the ocean as it is a story about the groundbreaking scientist. The author takes readers through Sylvia's early years, growing up on a farm in New Jersey where she was fascinated by the natural world around her, especially in the nearby pond. When the family moved to Florida, she quickly fell in love with the ocean, a passion that provided her with a career and a lifelong focus. The story left me enraptured and s ...more
I have hesitantly put this on my "ESL" shelf. Some problems with this book for ELLs are the reading passages are long and there are a lot of oceanographer type language that may be too difficult. It is also too long for a read aloud. Now that I've bashed in Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle's head, I'll say what I did like. Sylvia Earle grew up on a farm. A place she absolutely loved. She was devastated when her family moved her to Florida, but it was this experience and ...more
Lu Benke
I feel like I have just met the Rachel Carson of the latter part of the 20th century. Interesting format for a biography of Sylvia Earle with illustrations that seem like they are telling a picture book story rather than a life story. I remembering really enjoying Nivola's Orani: My Father's Village for that same sense that there is more story behind the pictures than the text can tell. As is becoming more typical, the Author's Note goes on to tell more about Earle's activism in speaking out for ...more
Christine Turner
Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she's designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls "the blue heart of the planet." With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia's growing passion and how h ...more
Mar 19, 2015 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Twin Text: The Ocean Story by John Seven, 2011

Life in the Ocean gives readers a glimpse into a brave woman’s encounter with the ocean, whereas The Ocean Story explains how we’re all connected to the cycle of water. The Ocean Story warns us about the dangers of polluting the ocean and hurting the animals, the ecosystem, and in turn, ourselves. I like Life in the Ocean’s portrayal of various sea creatures that Earle meets while The Ocean Story shows kids we need to be careful and responsible citiz
Nov 21, 2014 Rhayne rated it really liked it
In a world encapsulated by water one always asks the question, what lies below. Claire A. Nivola takes us on a trip under the sea with Oceanographer Sylvia Earle in her book Life in the Ocean. Upon first glance at the cover of the jacket, I am immediately transfixed by the wonderfully rendered water color depicting a diver exploring a vast blue hue. The water color is rendered so whimsically it literally transcends you into this underwater world completely unlike our typical above sea landscape. ...more
Jun 20, 2014 Kyle added it
Shelves: non-fiction
The twin text book that I picked to go with Life in the Ocean is (Underground, Fleming, 2012). The book underground can be paired with Life in the Ocean in a sort of symbolic way so it would be a good piece to use with upper elementary as well. Underground talks about animals that live underground, and what kids hopefully pick up on is that ocean animals live under the ground as well. They will have to branch the ideas of living underground and how moving around in the dirt can be like getting a ...more
Jean Coughlin
Twin Text: If you want to see a whale by Julie Fogliano, @2013

Rationale: I thought it would be a good idea to have a twin text for each of the topics of the webbing map. One topic would be the humpback whales that Sylvia Earle studied. If you want to see a whale is about a little boy looking for a whale. It tells what you need in order to see a whale and especially what you shouldn’t do in order to see one. The most important thing is that you have to wait and wait. The last page where the humpb
Mar 26, 2014 David rated it liked it
I really like how this book starts with young Sylvia Earle, observing wildlife in her backyard pond, and connects that curiosity to her later career in marine science. In addition, this biography of an influential female scientist is a great inspiration to curious young girls—who are less likely to be associated with science than boys. Marine biology is a fascinating subject in its own right, and this biography chronicles all the milestones in Sylvia’s lifetime. Her insights into the social aspe ...more
Jared White
I love the ocean and enjoyed learning more about it and about Sylvia Earle but I thought the text was a tiny bit clumsy and I wasn't in love with the pictures. But it was still a very informative book, both in relation to Earle and a some in relation to the ocean. It is inspiring how passionately Earle has pursued wanting to gain knowledge of the sea.

I just finished the "adult" non-fiction book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina and it was interesting how both spoke about
Melissa Berke
Part of the songs that we are doing for this concert might have been song sung by people who worked on a boat or a ship. The story I have to share with you is about another job for someone who has a love for the ocean. Listen as I read the first page. (Read the first page). More than 7000 hours underwater! That would be the equivalent of being in the ocean from January 1-October 18th. Now for the most amazing part of this book---it is a true story!

Opening Moves (Fountas & Pinnell, 20
Jennifer Nguyen
Apr 11, 2014 Jennifer Nguyen rated it it was amazing
"Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle" by Claire Nivola is a picture book biography about Sylvia Earle and her passion for the oceans. Sylvia dedicated all her time and energy to explore the undersea life. The colorful illustrations capture the beauty of the undersea world with a variety of captions and information to learn about Sylvia calls "the blue heart of the planet." My fiction twin text to pair with this book is called, "Wish for a Fish: All About Sea Creatures" by ...more
Dylan J.
Apr 27, 2016 Dylan J. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure, animals
I really liked this book I think the most interesting and captivating part of it had to be the fact that it was based off true real events and that the pictures were so detailed and stunning. Life in the ocean starts with the narrator telling you about the wonders of the ocean and exactly what it means to us as people and that we cannot live without it. The author tells the story of Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer, and how she came to be what she is today. The story talks about how Sylvia always ...more
Kallie Crowell
This book is a biography of Sylvia Earle. The book follows Sylvia on her journey to becoming an oceanographer and exploring the ocean. The book describes the different things Sylvia observed during her dives into the deep blue. While this book is a biography it is also an informational text about the ocean as well. The book covers the different animals and plant that Sylvia saw during her dives. It also touches on the negative effects humans are having on the world’s oceans. Life in the Ocean wo ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Cayley rated it liked it
Shelves: tchlrn307, children-s
I thought this book was mediocre as far as children's picture books. The story was okay. It is about how an oceanographer became an oceanographer and talks about her childhood interests all the way through her accomplishments in the field. The information discussed about the oceanographer was somewhat boring and the information about the ocean that they shared felt out of place. The illustrations helped with the text but were not very detailed. All in all, this was not a favorite of mine. I thin ...more
Sarah Souther
This beautifully illustrated book makes Earle's life seem dreamy. It's lovely as entertainment, but a bit frustrating as a biography. Dates are not given for many events, and since the narrative jumps around in time, it's a problem. A chronlology in the back would have been helpful. Nivola does use many quotes from Earle, and it's always great when a biography lets its subject speak for herself. Gr. 1-5.
Grace Livengood
Jun 06, 2016 Grace Livengood rated it liked it
Nivola, C. A. (2012). Life in the ocean: The story of oceanographer Sylvia Earle. New York: Frances Foster Books, Farrar Straus Giroux.
Sylvia Earle was always fascinated by the outdoors, and when she moved to Florida, her passion became studying the vast blue. She studied the world beneath the waves, and she kept going deeper and deeper, always one of the first to explore the next deepest level humans cold reach. She believed that if we knew more about the ocean, that we would do a better job of
Sarah Stommel
This story is a partial biography in the form of a picture book biography. The book started out with the story of how Sylvia Earle got inspired to study the vast ocean. It then detailed all her accomplishments in ocean exploration while also incorporating facts about the ocean life. The story is written with anecdotes woven in, making the story feel more like a work of fiction than of non-fiction. The images that accompany the story, illustrations of the ocean creatures, plant life, and Sylvia e ...more
Traci Bold
May 09, 2016 Traci Bold rated it really liked it
This is the biography of oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, who took the world by storm as becoming the 'voice of the ocean' and caring for it and bringing awareness to us humans about the ocean's true worth and how we must preserve it.

Since this story is quite long as it blends cool facts in with story, it is meant to be read over a few days to ingest what we gleaned from it.

I would have given it 5 stars had there been more illustrations to show more of the wonders of the ocean and the awe Sylvia f
Kristina Moss
Apr 07, 2014 Kristina Moss added it
Shelves: science
Life in the Ocean: The story of Oceanographer by Claire Nivola is a beautiful story. In this selection Sylvia first realizes her love for the ocean as a young girl in her Gulf of Mexico backyard. Later in life Sylvia has dedicated all her time and energy to the beautiful body of water. This captivating picture book also use information and biographical features to introduce young audiences to the beauty of oceans. I would use this book in my class for Science/Literature lessons. For example I wo ...more
Allison Barry
I paired this book with Isabel of the Whales by Hester Velmans. I chose to pair the non-fiction book with this fiction text because they both mention oceans and whales. In Life in the Ocean, Sylvia Earle encounters whales. The author quotes, "Take the humpback whale, forty feet long and weighing 80,000 pounds, who, on the first day of a three-month whale study, swam straight at her." In Isabel of the Whales, Isabel, an eleven-year-old girl goes on a whale-watch for a field trip. Isabel ends up h ...more
Gorgeous biography of Sylvia Earle, the renowned oceanographer. Don't skip the fascinating author's note.
Adrienne Furness
This book and Earle's life are inspiring. I particularly love the detail of the illustrations here.
Troy Blackford
Sep 03, 2014 Troy Blackford rated it did not like it
Ridiculous ripoff, and example of the dangers of obtaining books digitally. This book is good for what it is, a pamphlet about fascinating oceanographer Sylvia Earle. However, it is priced like the full-length book that I expected, and I did not realize it until weeks after my purchase when I could no longer return it. Almost half the book seemed to be Author's Notes. This groundbreaking scientist deserves a longer work, and this book would have been welcome at a more reasonable price. As it was ...more
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Claire Nivola writes: “I was born in 1947 in New York City. When I was a year old my parents bought an old farmhouse in The Springs on Long Island—the seashore town that appears in Elisabeth (FSG). The “country,” as it still was then; animals; being read to; and reading were among the passions of my childhood. The daughter of an artist father and mother, I drew and sculpted from earliest childhood ...more
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