Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish by Janet Halfmann is just about as perfect as a nonfiction picture book can get, especially for the young elementary grade set. It has the right balance of detail and nuance, making this an informational book that has a lot of narrative appeal. The ochre sea star is the star of this story, and because she is singled out and the details of her life are told in story form, we grow fond of her and really care about what happens to her. While Sea Star definitely isn’t anthropomorphized, Janet Halfmann manages to really endear her to reader, simply through her excellent writing:
Like a circus acrobat, she folds over two of her rays and grips the rocky shore with her sticky feet. She somersaults, landing right side up. The fish doesn’t like her tough, spiny top and swims away.
Children who read this book will come away from it knowing a lot about the ochre sea star: where it lives, what it eats, how it digests its food, how its tube feet work, how it senses light, and much more. Those who are interested in learning more can do so in the two pages of additional material entitled “The Amazing Sea Stars” at the end of the book. Joan Paley‘s gorgeous collage illustrations are simple and uncluttered enough to appeal to young children but detailed enough to capture the textures of the Pacific shoreline. I give this a Highly Recommended as a read-aloud, as a read-alone, and as a science book packaged in a great story.
Reading this book makes me want to go to the beach!
- Review at Reading to Know
- Review at The Nonfiction Detectives (bloggers who nominated this title for the Cybils)
- Review at From Tots to Teens (Cybils nonfiction panelist)
- Janet Halfmann’s website
This book was nominated in the nonfiction picture book category of the 2011 Cybils. I am also linking up this post to Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week at Practically Paradise.