Sea Monsters reviewed by CBCA Reading Time

This kind of story encourages children to use their imagination, not just in play, but extended into the world around them...

Sea Monsters reviewed by Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian

A walk along the beach is often characterised by the sound of the waves, the fresh air and the sheer exuberance of being able to move with such freedom as we pass rocks, seaweed and other detritus washed up by the tides. Being king of the castle, drawing pictures in the sand with sticks, feeling the texture of the sand and shells under our feet and the delight of beating the waves as they try to soak our clothes are just a few joys of this most pleasurable experience.

But what if we slowed down and took the time to look at what is there, to examine the shapes and colours and textures of the landscape? Where might our imaginations take us? Into a world of monsters or somewhere different?

Environmental activist David Suzuki says

Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can't expect them to help protect and care for it.

Author/photographer of this new book for young readers, Sharon Yaxley has used this quote to describe the concept of this remarkable book for young readers, to encourage them to look more closely at the things in their world and let those things talk to their imaginations. Tails, tusks, dark eyes, sharp noses and jaws with jagged teeth are all there in the seaweed, driftwood, rocks, sand... and when the tide crashes in and the wind does its work, they change into something different. Looking closely, thinking about the object's story and the story it could inspire all help to slow the child down in this breakneck world, to be curious and spark their wonder.

Even if your students live nowhere near a beach, this can still be the inspiration to take them outside and let them immerse themselves in what is there and imagine... Let's take the opportunity to connect our kids to the real world so they want to protect it too. Extensive teaching notes aligned to many strands of the Australian Curriculum are available.

Sea Monsters reviewed by Fran Knight

Highly recommended. Themes: Seashore, Tide pools, Seaweed. A magnificent book of photos from the seashore is given extra life by the inclusion of poetic lines giving the hint about what we are seeing. Not seaweed but monsters with eyes and tusks and jagged teeth, whispering tales from the deep.

The monsters were torn from beneath the ocean and tossed and torn upon the waves, then left on the sand along the beach where their shapes became monsters.

Children will thrill recognising the flotsam they see upon the beach, viewed with different eyes, becoming tails and fins and eyes and tusks, lying in wait for those who venture there, telling stories of what has happened to them, waiting for the next high tide to bring them back on the shore to tell even more stories.

Copious teacher notes are available at the author's website but I would prefer to let the kids take charge and be wowed by the images and how these images could be seen as monsters. I think a class could make wonderful use of this book, sharing experiences by the sea, imagining the monsters seen on the shore, perhaps visiting the beach for themselves to see what they can find. The pictures are simply stunning, taking the reader's breath away as they pour over each page, remembering the feel of the sand, the rubbery texture of the seaweed, the coldness of the water.