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Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean Review by Kendra Fletcher

By Gail Langer Karwoski
Illustrated by Connie McLennan
Sylvan Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
877-958-2600 (toll free)

"It's night, little person, and you're tucked in your warm, dry bed. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in the deep, deep sea?"

Thus begins Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean, a picture book about the way marine animals sleep underwater. A young boy is transported from his bed to the ocean, visiting sleeping orcas, harbor seals, dolphins, manatees, humpback whales, northern fur seals, beluga whales, walruses, elephant seals, and otters. On each page, there is ample information about their sleeping habits: "Humpback babies nap behind mother whale's long and graceful flipper. As mother moves through the vast ocean, her mighty body creates a current that tows the sleepy baby along." This is just enough information for the young reader for whom the book is intended.

The book's illustrations are really quite beautiful. They remind me of colorful ocean prints one might find for sale in an aquarium store. However, I find the illustrations of the sleeping boy disturbing; he doesn't always look as if he is sleeping. Rather, at times he looks as if he has drowned. My concern right off the bat is that a really young child could see this book and assume that he or she, too, could walk out to the pool some night and "sleep" in the water like the boy in the story.

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean has won critical acclaim, garnering the Teachers' Choice Award for children's books in 2007. Teachers, whether in the classroom or at home, recognize the value of a children's book that not only entertains but educates.

As an added benefit for the homeschooler, the book includes a "For Creative Minds" section at the end of the story, which provides extra information about marine mammals, taxonomy order, a coloring page, and a craft project as well.

While not an essential book for a home library, this book would be a nice addition to a unit study or a gift for a budding marine biologist. A confident second-grade reader could handle the text without a problem, and younger ones would enjoy the story if read aloud.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2007