This is a remarkable book: small and compact yet covering a massive topic. It is the result of an initiative by The International Centre for the Picture Book in Society, based at the University of Worcester’s Illustration department. Fifty illustrators from thirty-five countries submitted postcards celebrating the ocean and showing its problems with an illustration and a quote.
The Foreword to the collection is by Ambassador Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. He extols the greatness of the Earth’s oceans, explains the problems humankind has made for it and advises that, ‘Ocean literacy should be on the curriculum of every school on the planet’ (p.8).
This beautifully produced collection by Otter-Barry Books is divided into three sections: Celebrating the Ocean; The Danger to the Ocean; Take Action for the Ocean. Artists/Writers involved in the project include Barroux, Nicola Davies, Jackie Morris, Jane Ray and Axel Scheffler. Each spread consists of the postcard, a relevant quote; the layout is highly effective in communicating important messages about the destruction of the ocean and climate change.
I particularly like Axel Scheffler’s illustration where ‘SOS’ consists of fishes in the shape of those letters. Underneath is a dirty-coloured ocean full of debris. Marti Alcon’s depiction of, ‘The ocean is our home,’ (p.38) is especially striking with houses, people and animals all crowded onto a large fish!
Congratulations to all involved in this project. I love the results and am sure young people of all ages will take away some serious and important messages from it. When I first picked up this book, I thought it would be a quick read, but I was wrong. It has left me with lots of images and thoughtful words about how, ‘We belong to the ocean, not the other way around’ (p. 8). The royalties from this publication will be given to Greenpeace International and IBBY (the International Board of Books for Young People). An investment in this book will definitely educate, enlighten and inform our students.