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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  377 ratings  ·  122 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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37th out of 97 books — 231 voters
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Troy Blackford
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
Melissa Mcavoy
As a child, Sylvia Earle lost her heart to the sea. Roaming the ocean floor in an aqua suit, swimming with whales, and plunging 13,000 feet in a Japanese submersible was just the beginning. She even realized a dream to "live" underwater; spending two weeks below the surface. She shares her experiences and insights into the creatures she was privileged to observe day and night.A two page author's note makes a powerful case for an urgent need to protect the ocean and its creatures from further pol ...more
Mackenzie Beals
Life in the ocean is a story about the life of Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer. We learn how Sylvia spent more than 7,000 hours underwater. She calls it "the blue heart of the planet." In the story we learn of her experiences while snorkeling and scuba diving. She encounters whales, angelfish, and the coral reefs. Sylvia's story encourages readers to learn more about the ocean world because if we don't, we will never really care about it or take care of it. Her story is very interesting and infor ...more
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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