Earlier this month on 8 June, we celebrated World Oceans Day, so I was delighted to be invited to participate in the Books on Tour promotion of the new book Ocean Devotion written by Elizabeth Mary Cummings and illustrated by Melissa Salvarani.
World Oceans Day is a day for celebrating, protecting and conserving the world’s oceans. ‘The purpose of the Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.’
The theme for 2021 is ‘One Ocean, One Climate, One Future — Together’
The book Ocean Devotion helps to spread that message in an empowering story which urges us to take action to care for the ocean and life in and beneath its waves.
The message begins with the dedications:
“Our oceans are precious. Let us join together to build a cleaner, greener future for all. With love and thanks to you Dad for your example.” E.C.
“In a few years we have created a sixth continent made of plastic, a practically indestructible material. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the three magic words that can change the world.” M.S.
About Ocean Devotion
Kalea and her friend Hiapo live near the ocean. They love to play in the waves and enjoy the nature around them. One day they notice something shiny on the horizon. Curious, the friends head out on an adventure to find out what is floating in their ocean only to discover an island of plastic. Fish and sea life are suffering from this pollution so the young eco warriors need to act fast to save the day.
What I like about Ocean Devotion
Elizabeth Cummings’s rhyming couplets and Melissa Salvarani’s bright and colourful images attract children to its pages and its messages. The beautiful blues of the ocean look inviting, but a closer investigation shows the danger that lurks within for its inhabitants — plastic in all shapes and sizes that humans have carelessly discarded. Salvarani has used mixed media to enhance the images with polluting items and newsprint messages.
When the children spot a sparking island in the distance, they are intrigued and excited by the thought of the gems they will collect. However, their excitement turns to dismay when they discover the island to be formed of discarded plastic. This is a great way to introduce even young children to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and to let them know that an island of plastic is not make believe. It is real and causes the death of thousands of marine creatures every year.
The message, delivered by a plastic bottle, is strong and empowering but it does not accuse. Instead, the plastic asks for the children’s help, stating that it was never meant to be there and should be recycled. Suggestions for recycling and reusing are provided, and the children enlist the help of their community in cleaning up the ocean to protect the sea life.
The suggested actions are simple but effective and easy for us all to implement. We are urged to ensure that plastic waste doesn’t reach our waterways and oceans and prompted to clean up what is already there. It is recommended we reduce our use of plastic, reuse what we can, and recycle as much as possible.
An alphabetic list of words at the back of the book encourages children to discover the meanings of the words and inspires them to find out more for themselves.
A series of images showing the effects of pollution asks children to think about and describe what they see, assisting them to explore the issue of pollution and its effects even further.
This book provides children with an understanding of the enormity of the plastic problem while giving them tools to work towards reducing it. Overall, I see it as a book of hope for the future. Everyone can make a difference, especially when we work together as a community.
About Elizabeth Cummings
Elizabeth Mary Cummings was born in Manchester, educated in Scotland and has lived in Australia and New Zealand for many years. Starting her professional life as a primary school teacher, Elizabeth’s teaching career has taken her into many different roles, including teaching in both the public and independent sectors, working with refuges, special needs and foreign language teaching. When she moved to Australia in 2008 Elizabeth developed and ran a successful language business before releasing her first picture book in 2015 (The Disappearing Sister- a sibling’s account of anorexia nervosa). Her stories often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and reflect on important life experiences including themes of resilience, grief, equality, the natural environment, kindness, empowerment, anti-bullying and mental health. Elizabeth set up her independent publishing company in 2015 and is also published by Big Sky Publishing.
Find out more about Elizabeth Mary Cummings
On her website: https://elizabethmarycummings.com/
Or connect with her on social media
About Melissa Salvarani
Find out more about Melissa Salvarani
On her website: https://www.melissasalvarani.com/
Stop Plastic Pollution
For more information about the magnitude of plastic pollution in our oceans and a powerful video to share with adults and children alike, vist the Just Write For Kids blog and their post Let’s Make it Clear: Say NO to Plastics!.
More Stops on the Blog Tour
You can also find out more about Elizabeth Cummings and others of her books in previous interviews and reviews on this blog:
While you are here, remember to check out the complete readilearn collection of
over 480 teaching resources for the first three years of school
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