Allison's Book Bag

Castles in the Sea by Lawrence Jackson

Posted on: July 18, 2013

CastlesSeaCastles in the Sea by Lawrence Jackson is a fabulous picture book. It’s a perfect blend of content for all ages. Bright drawings and supplementary photos, engaging narrative and sidebar explanations. You’ll enjoy looking at and repeatedly reading this nonfiction text about icebergs.

The artwork appeals on many levels. The unique watercolors on silk, with dominant colors of blue and brown, created by Newfoundland artist Diana Dabinett, complements the words. Quill and Quire adds that, “Extending the artwork to the end papers immediately immerses the reader in the topic.” Supplementary photos include that of icebergs emerging from a glacier, scientists drilling a hole through the ice, a sonar image of iceberg scour marks on the Grand Banks, and icebergs towering beyond a community in the famous Iceberg Alley. Using both watercolor illustrations and photos was a smart choice, creating a stronger visual impact than either alone.

The writing also works on different levels. From the start, suspense is built into the narrative, which is incredible when you consider the topic is icebergs: “Far away, in a land too cold for forests, snow keeps falling every year…. This place is called Greenland, where most of the land is not green. Greenland is nearly all rock. The name is just a trick.” Younger readers will enjoy the clear and simple narrative, with its comparisons to everyday objects such as: the icebergs rubs rocks as “smooth as apples”. Older readers will appreciate the numerous sidebars, with their detailed information about glaciers, icebergs, scientific investigations, and ice patrol. No matter what your age, you’ll treasure Jackson’s poetic style: “It’s as if the ice remembers it used to be water, and water’s job is to find the sea. It has become a glacier–a very slow river of ice, flowing down the valleys, looking for the sea.” If you ever thought that scientists couldn’t write for the average reader, Castles in the Sea is a testament to the fact that they can.

Most of my reviews include criticism as well as praise. If I were to find any fault with Castles in the Sea, it’s that this book almost didn’t get published. Lawrence Jackson is an expert in the nature field. He grew up being fascinated by the natural world and lived for almost thirty years by the sea in Newfoundland and Labrador. Although most of his life was spent writing about science for adults, the back cover of Castles in the Air shares that Jackson was also always eager to share his interests with young people. However, if not for his family who worked together to see his manuscript published, Castles in the Sea would have died with Jackson.

Thankfully, financial support from the Government of Canada allowed his family to complete and publish this children’s book. If you aren’t already, Castles in the Sea will leave you impressed with icebergs and desirous to see these wonders of nature.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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