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Now out in paperback, this favourite book about the seaside is excellent value for money and deserves a place on the science shelf in the primary school library. It would also enrich a family outing to the sea. There is comprehensive coverage of the topic; the 15 sections include: Tides turning, Sea shells, Seabirds, Flotsam and jetsam, and Under the water. The folklore of the sea is covered in a section on Mermaids and pirates and there is good input on Seaside safety and on Pollution.
The illustrations show children busy exploring the seaside habitats. The smaller drawings, often of the sea creatures and sea birds, are helpfully detailed and annotated in distinctive hand lettering. The main written text is clear and encourages a questioning approach. What is sand and how is it formed? How does the sea make waves? What causes tides?
This interactive approach is evident also in the well thought out suggestions for activities which encourage children’s observation, research and creativity using all their senses. The feel of smooth pebbles, textured shells and rubbery seaweed can be experienced more intensely if you close your eyes. There are sensible instructions for science experiments to show how waves are formed and the effects of the push of the wind. Artistic activities include writing sea poems, making a shell necklace or creating a wave picture using ‘the end of a wax candle and some sea-green watercolour paint’. What sets this book apart from some competitors is the way in which these authors address their young readers. They do them the courtesy of telling them the truth: while the seaside and its creatures are a source of wonder and pleasure, there are dangers to take account of. Some beaches are not safe for bathing and you have to be careful about picking up objects that might be poisonous, sharp or germ-laden. There is realistic information about pollution and the devastating effect oil spills have on sea creatures. Not all attempts to clean up oiled birds are successful. It is right that children are given the information they need to truly care about all this.