I’m celebrating twice over today!
Here’s in the UK it is National Non-Fiction Day, an annual celebration, initiated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups which aims to celebrate all that is brilliant about non-fiction and show that it’s not just fiction that can be read and enjoyed for pleasure.
Today is also the launch of Picture Book Month, an international literacy initiative that celebrates the printed picture book during the entire month of November.
Each day has a suggested theme (you can see the entire calendar here), and today’s theme is “Oceans”. Combining this with National Non-Fiction Day means that today I wanted to share Down, Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins with you.
With each turn of the page in this enlightening and fascinating book Steve Jenkins takes us deeper into the oceans. We start off at the surface, and eventually end up more than 10 km deep at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. On each spread we are introduced to 3 or 4 animals to be found in that given zone of the oceans. For example, in the Sunlit Zone we meet the Green Sea Turtle and Sailfish, amongst others, whilst in the Dark Zone the evocatively named Black Swallower and the Fangtooth are some of the creatures we are introduced to.
Jenkins’ beautiful, textured, lifelike collages are accompanied by a paragraph or two of information about life in the ocean. From these bite-sized chunks we learn about filter feeders, the importance of being soft bodied to deal with the pressure, bioluminscence, marine snow (which sounds so much more romantic than it actually is), and animals which get their energy from sulpher loving bacteria, rather than sunlight. As the pages get darker and darker, it becomes more and more exciting, and the reader/listener really does feel like an adventurous explorer.
End notes include further details and scale drawing of all the animals featured in Down, Down Down. There is also a short bibliography featuring books aimed at both adults and children.
Although events earlier this year mean that some of Jenkins’ 2009 text is slightly out of date (the bottom of the Marianas trench has now been visited twice by humans), don’t let this deter you from seeking out this exciting, informative and very attractive non-fiction picture book.
Inspired by the pages about bioluminescence, we did a bit of our own glowing and communicating in the dark. Taking this post from the Simthsonian Ocean portal as our guide we used glowsticks and long shutter releases on my camera to paint pictures of imaginary animals of the deep…
We could have spent ALL day doing this, it was so much fun. One of our very favourite book-inspired activities this year, I’d say
Music which would go well with reading Down, Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea includes:
Other activities which would go well alongside reading this book include:
So what non-fiction picture book are you going to pull of the shelves today?