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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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  884 ratings  ·  179 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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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  884 ratings  ·  179 reviews

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Dec 19, 2012 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
Kori Morris
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an jaw-droppingly beautiful book - the illustrations, the sentences, and the illustrations (yes I do think they're that good). I can't wait to share this book with my 3rd and 4th graders, I think during the week I'm covering women in science.
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
Roberta Gibson
May 02, 2012 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
Rebekah Craven
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it

This book is the story of Sylvia Earle and her many accomplishments as one of the most famous women oceanographers. The story goes through Sylvia Earle's early childhood life and how she develops a passion for the wide open ocean and exploring the life that lies beneath the water. Claire A. Nivola does an excellent job of telling Sylvia's story, while also highlighting the excitement and beauty of the ocean and its life forms. In the author's note at the end of the book Nivola even goe
Stefanie Green
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
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
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
Jim Erekson
Feb 20, 2013 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
This picturebook is for older kids than the ones I've been reading recently.

The opening page is about the oceans generally and is maybe a bit of a dry introduction. Then we begin the biography proper -- which dwells mostly on experiences of wonder, which I think works well as a way to keep kids engaged and stir their own curiosity (and possibly love) for the underwater world.

The Author's Note talks about how "Sylvia was born in 1935. Most of the damage done to the ocean has taken place during he
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
Dain Frisby-Dart
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cvtc-kidlit
This biography of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle was not only informative for me personally (I admit to never having heard of her), but including lots of wonderful details about how amazing our oceans and seas are. Some of the text is a bit long and might be overreaching for young ones, but I think most 3rd-5th graders would find this book pretty fascinating. I think it can inspire further reading and research about how truly important oceans are to our planet. I also love that it highlights a woman ...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
Courtney Barter
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidlit
I consider this book appropriate for 2nd grade. There is quite a bit of text throughout the book, but there are also a lot of illustrations. This book explains Sylvia Earle's life as a child and as an oceanographer. Very interesting and easy for children to understand! Biography.
This is an eye catching book about Sylvia Earle who feel in love with the world inside the ocean. This book seems to be engaging for the older reader, possible 3 grade up. The pictures are very well done and the simple text is great if trying to read it to the younger reader.
Gorgeous biography of Sylvia Earle, the renowned oceanographer. Don't skip the fascinating author's note.
Adrienne Pettinelli
This book and Earle's life are inspiring. I particularly love the detail of the illustrations here.
Carrie Gelson
Gorgeous picture book about the life of Sylvia Earle. Inspiring and full of learning. A great read aloud for upper primary or an independent read for intermediate students.
Nov 21, 2014 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
Carol A.
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: primary-books
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
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Jun 19, 2014 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
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
Mar 26, 2014 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
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Tonya Peck
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Grace Livengood
Jun 01, 2016 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
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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