The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea – Bryn Barnard


   The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea – Bryn Barnard, Alfred A. Knopf, (9780375870491), 2017.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? Using six species as examples, this slim volume sounds the alarm about changes in the ocean and makes an urgent call for action. There are several pages about each of these species: the rise of jellyfish, the endangering of orcas, the declining numbers of turtles, the decline of tuna and the high levels of mercury in the ones that are left, the warming and acidification of the ocean and consequent bleaching of coral reefs, and the rise in levels of blue-green algae. The graphics are lovely even as they display disturbing events. The most dramatic painting shows a turtle whose warped shell has grown around a plastic six-pack ring in which it is stuck. Two maps on the end pages show the location of huge garbage patches (there is one in every major ocean now!) and the current state of coral bleaching with projections to 2095. Thankfully, the author finishes on a positive note by citing the example of Boyan Slat, a sixteen-year-old Dutch engineering student who invented a passive ocean cleaner that has begun removing plastic garbage from the ocean. Young people are encouraged to study nature and science and work toward solutions.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Bleak passages like this one verge on hopelessness, “It may be that the human extinction event may actually have begun ten thousand years ago, when people invented agriculture, began clearing forests and jungles for fields, and thus began loading extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to science teachers of students in grades 5 to 7 who really want to impress upon their students the importance of conservation and finding solutions to our planet’s environmental problems.

Who should buy this book? Upper elementary and middle school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in 578.77 with other books about the ocean and its creatures.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  7/17/17

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