Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle
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Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  106 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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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...more
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...more
Jim Erekson
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...more
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...more
Roberta Gibson
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
Jennifer Nguyen
"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
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.
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.
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: LIFE IN THE OCEAN: THE STORY OF OCEANOGRAPHER SYLVIA EARLE by Claire A. Nivola, Farrar Straus Giroux, March 2012, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-374-38068-7

“We would sing and dance around
Because we know we can’t be found
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden in the shade”
Richard Starkey (1969)

“Pictures of whales, says Sylvia, make them look ‘big and fat and ponderous and lumpy…Whales are like swallows…like otters…They move in any direction. They swim upside down. They’re vertical....more
This picture book biography of biologist and oceanographer Sylvia Earle pays homage not only to her life’s work but to the incredible ecosystem of the oceans as well. Sylvia was a biologist even as a child, sitting by the pond at their rural home in New Jersey and observing. When Sylvia was 12, her family moved to Florida where their home was right near the Gulf of Mexico. Sylvia started going to swims with her goggles on and watching these new creatures so different from the pond life in New Je...more
GENRE: Nonfiction
AWARD: NCTE Orbis Pictus 2013
FICTION TWIN TEXT: The Pout-Pout Fish In The Big-Big Dark by Deborah Diesen

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola is a biography that tells the story of Sylvia’s curiosity for learning about her world and exploring the places around her from her childhood farm, to a pond, to her greatest exploration the ocean. “Sylvia said she was a biologist and a botanist long before she even knew what those...more
From the beautifully treasured Planting the Trees of Kenya, Claire A. Nivola brings us Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, a book made to be shared with inquisitive students in classrooms around the world. Nivola chronicles the life of the accomplished ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle, through her delightful pairing of simple, easy-to-understand text and brilliantly detailed illustrations.
In my years of teaching, the magically curious life in the ocean always sparked the inve...more
Carol A.
Audience: Primary
Genre: Biography Non-Fiction

Fiction Twin Text: Ocean's Child by Christine Ford

Life in the Ocean is a biography about Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer. Since a teenager, Sylvia loved to dive underwater. During her career as an oceanographer, she spent over seven thousand hours underwater exploring many oceans across the globe. This book reveals her close encounters underwater, such as when she came within inches of a humpback whale, gray angelfish, and parrot fish, among others. Sy...more
LORD, does every children's book have to make me cry?
Amazing bio of oceanographer, Sylvia Earle. Beautiful illustrations and poetic accounts of her dives and life in the sea.

"into our ocean, all around the world, we have dumped lethal nuclear waste, industrial waste, pollutants from underwater mining, and just plain garbage. We abandon sunken ships and allow our highways, farms, fields, and yards to leach fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals into freshwater systems leading to coastal w...more
Tara Kollman
This 2013 Orbis Pictus Recommended book is about the life story of Oceanographer, Sylvia Earlie. At a young age, Sylvia loved exploring the life in her backyard and in her surrounding countryside. However, at the age of twelve her family moved to Florida and that is when her eyes first set upon the clear blue ocean of the Gulf of Mexico. From that day forward, her heart belonged to the water. In her teens, she learned how to dive and entered a university majoring in oceanography. After her degre...more
Beginning with a one-page overview of the importance of the world's oceans, this biographical story of Sylvia Earle follows her life from a childhood on a farm in New Jersey, to her teen years at an ocean-side home in Florida, to her career as an oceanography. She was a botanist and biologist before she even knew what that meant, and devoted her life to knowing more about the oceans so that we may all care more about them.

This story is excellently done. The illustrations capture the wonder of t...more
Tonya Peck
Audience: This book is great for primary and intermediate readers. With advanced text and vocabulary this book would be geared more toward 3-5th grade readers.

Appeal: Children of all ages love fish and the mysteries of the ocean, so this book and it's illustrations would appeal to all ages. The text and advanced vocabulary would be more fitting for 3-5th graders, and I think they would really enjoy the story of Sylvia Earle.

Application: I would use this book as an introduction to a unit lesson...more
Michelle Crunkleton-Clark
Beautiful illustrations. Compelling story. Wonderful picture book bio for upper elementary grades. This was a Reading Olympic pic for my kids' elementary school for grades 5 and 6. Don't forget to read the author's note in the back. It contains almost another picture book worth of information. I could see why they didn't include it -- it would have changed the focus of the story. But it is a must read for older kids and adults.
Lady Lioness
Making my way through the current Stars So Far list.

Since I know myself fairly well, I am quite certain that if I found myself in the ocean surrounded by massive humpback whales, I would probably lose my shit. However, the way Nivola paraphrases Sylvia Earle's thoughts on these animals, the loveliness makes me wish I would be braver. Narrowly focused on Earle's work in the water, Life in the Ocean is still an inspiring tale of a woman who bucked conventions to be a trailblazer. She was a scienti...more
I had never heard of Sylvia Earle before I picked up this book. Nivola tells of Earle's life and her calling to explore the oceans of the world. This would be a great title to give to kids who are fascinated by Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.

The illustrations look like watercolors to me, but there's no illustration note to confirm. They are filled with tiny details to sift through and the varying layouts work well to pace the story.

Includes an Author's Note that is basically a call for oceanic con...more
Feb 15, 2014 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
Always looking for good nonfiction that is narrative. Always looking for picture books for older readers. But what really mattered to me in this book is finding a scientist with so many firsts and mosts whose name my kids should know.
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