Book ReviewsChildren's Books

Book Review: Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem

Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem

Written by Melissa Stewart
Illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
Ages: 4 – 8
Review by A.B. Greene

Buy It Here.

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What happens when a whale dies? As it turns out, it’s a whale of a lot. Whale Fall explores the magic and wonder of the myriad, eclectic sea creatures whose survival depends on the many nutrients in a decomposing gray whale. From hair crabs and snubnose eelpouts to zombie worms, the scavengers on the ocean floor are denizens of another world, one still filled with so much unknown to even the most skilled scientists.

Sibert Honor Author Melissa Stewart and illustrator Rob Dunlavey unfold this transportive tale with a simple, elegant touch, weaving a decades-long process featuring hundreds of diverse species into a digestible treat. Death can be a scary topic to broach to anyone, let alone a child, but her death is not only inextricable from life but sustains so much more of it, an inspiring cycle that reminds us that everything has a purpose.

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The budding marine biologist will be delighted by the field notes in the back featuring exhilarating factoids. Did you know pink sea pigs breathe through their butt?! I didn’t, and I can say my life is better now than I do. In that way, this book is much like the whale it’s devoted to, enriching the lives of anyone who encounters it.



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