Dive In is enticing on so many levels. As someone who has had the memorable experience of snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, once was not enough but once is all I got. Munro's book powerfully creates the experience. You are immersed and absorbed, never leaving the sea, viewing 29 of the gorgeous, quirky, fantastical inhabitants of coral reefs. It deserves to be revisited time and time again.
Did you ever hear of a spotted cleaner shrimp or a longsnout seahorse or the queen triggerfish, to name a few? And what's that gray thing that starts looming in the background on 15,16, 17, 18 and folds out into two double-spreads on pages 19-22 to reveal a reef shark that is 8 feet long? (Measuring that critter, alone, is worth owning the book.)
This is a book that commands study and involvement that goes way beyond the five-minute bedtime read. Munro includes a simple fact or two for each critter that are gems:
"The common octopus is a mollusk, as are snails, clams, and squids. Like a squid,
an octopus also changes colors and patterns to camouflage itself. An octopus has
excellent vision and a large brain, and is considered the most intelligent,
invertebrate. It even uses tools to build its den, which might feature a door that
opens and closes!"
My kid-like curious brain is teeming with questions to know more. If it's a mollusk, where's its shell? How many colors can it be? How do we know that? What does its eyes have to do with the size of its brain?
The back-matter reveals a key to the 29 different species as a "walk in the park" diagram including the relative sizes depicted as actual size in the book. Yep, there's the reef shark, taking up space in the middle. And the end papers feature coral reefs of the world, including the one I dove into.
Roxie Munro brings the skills of a fine artist and the discipline of a diligent nonfiction author to revealing a complex and glorious ecosystem currently under attack from global warming.
If Dive In is the first book on coral reefs in a child's library, it will not be the last.