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Kids who don’t like to get wet but want to know what goes on under those big waves generated by the deep blue sea can now visit a coral reef vicariously in the company of marine biologist Dr Sylvia A. Earle and underwater photographer Wolcott Henry. HELLO, FISH! VISITING THE CORAL REEF (ISBN: 0-7922-7103-3; $15.95) is one of several distinctive books on animal life published for children by the National Geographic Society.  

Dr. Earle’s texts are poetic, easy to read and they get right to the point and answer the questions that most quickly arise upon looking at Henry’s accompanying large format photos. We start off, for instance, with a photo of a Spotted Moray eel. Dr. Earle explains that while eels look dangerous, “people aren’t on their menus,” that, in fact, they can be as gentle as kittens and as curious too.  

In this way, we are introduced to a frogfish, a spotted stingray, striped catfish (“Cats,” Dr. Earle tells us, “aren’t the only creatures famous for their whiskers”) a damselfish, a precious seahorse (Did you know that seahorses mate for life?) and more. Each fish is shown in its natural environment, so that in addition to meeting the fish themselves, we get a look at the sea anemone that the clownfish likes to hide in and the pile of sand and pebbles that make the stargazer almost impossible to identify.  

Dr. Earle refers to the fish in the book as her friends, and after viewing the gorgeous photos and reading through the wonderful descriptions, even the truest landlubbers among us will want to know more about the life under the sea—which is exactly the point. Some of the mystery of the sea is revealed here with great enthusiasm, rendering it inviting and magical. This is the book you will want to bring to the beach house this summer.  

HELLO, FISH! VISITING THE CORAL REEF is reviewed by Joan Schweighardt, the author of GUDRUN’S TAPESTRY and other novels. Over the years Joan has counted among her closest friends Zelma, Cleo, and Speedy-Clark (all felines) and Heidi, Barnaby, Dirty Ben, Auggie Doggie and Smart Sartre (all canines). Currently Joan counts herself lucky to share her life and home with Nikki, a Belgian Shepherd who survived a near-death experience more than a year ago. Having been nursed back to life with drops of water from a turkey-baster and thereafter minuscule pieces of prime rib, Nikki is now the most spoiled 14-year-old dog on the planet.

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