The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs

In a visually exhilarating exploration, author Kate Messner (Over and Under the Pond) and illustrator Matthew Forsythe (Warning: Do Not Open This Book!) tell the inspiring story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation.

Nedimyer, son of a NASA engineer, grew up in Florida but, unlike his father, "Ken's dreams weren't in the stars. He loved the ocean." Messner tells her readers, "[h]e watched TV shows about underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. He visited the beach whenever he could, swimming far out to a world of angelfish and sea stars." Forsythe's illustrations set the tone: calming, inviting colors as a young Ken watches the sun rise over the water; bold, dark colors in an exciting underwater Cousteau adventure.

As Nedimyer grows up, he continues to submerge himself in ocean life. The textures of Forsythe's corresponding illustrations create a feeling of authenticity and seem to pulse with the life that fascinates the adolescent Nedimyer. And when Messner shares the foreboding news, "One summer, hotter than the rest, Ken noticed the corals were losing their color, and there weren't as many fish," a silent, dark double-page spread follows, conjuring thoughts of an eerie, watery graveyard. From this sad, gloomy depth, the story begins to buoy.

The audience learns about live rock farms and staghorn corals. They share in the excitement of Nedimyer's discovery of the coral as well as his experiments replanting them on the dying reefs and the inception of the Coral Restoration Foundation. The intensity increases, the colors brighten and hope emerges from the vivid pages, Messner and Forsythe giving readers cause for jubilation in Nedimyer's adventure. An excellent introduction to environmental awareness and respect, The Brilliant Deep is sure to spark interest and inspire many young readers. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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