Book review: “The Sea and Me” by Bianca Begovich

A strong maritime message for young minds

By Guru

The Sea and MeThe Sea and Me is a story with rhythm that entertains the ear, illustrations that pleases the eye, and a message to empower young minds. It is difficult to write a children’s story with a moral lesson without becoming didactic. Bianca Begovich succeeds because she combines an easy style that lends itself to reading it aloud and simplifies a serious global problem in a way that allows children to understand. It is the first of a three-part series aimed at children between the ages of 5 to 8.

Solutions to big problems

The pollution of our oceans and the depletion of its resources are daunting enough challenges for adults let alone children. Bianca manages to bridge this problem by giving the young reader bite-size problems with bite-size practical do-able solutions. Fisheries regulations, like catch sizes and limits, are subtly included in the colourful, comic-style illustrations executed by Scott Pearson, while the simple moral lessons of not being greedy, keeping the beaches clean, and sharing, are repeatedly hammered home.

overfishingEvery story needs its villains. Trawlers using the destructive driftnet fishing methods are singled out for specific mention. Young readers are given market solutions which empowers them. I can imagine a child, following mum or dad grocery shopping, reminding the parent to only buy canned tuna with dolphin friendly labels. There is also a clear message on the effectiveness of collective action, with the illustration showing a child leading it with a loudspeaker. Bianca’s approach to conservation is designed to show the sustainable interdependence of people and their surrounding ecology.

 

A practical element: recipes to try

BiancaThe pages contain not only interesting details about the common spotty or the flounder and deep sea angler fish, it also has simple recipes, that kids can try out, like seafood macaroni cheese. It is about catching and eating seafood and doing it in a way that looks after the sea that sustains our food supply.

Teaching children that they can change the future they will inherit is critical. Bianca’s creative commitment and Scott’s illustrations give us that hope.

 

The book launch is on this Sunday, June 22 at 1pm at the Paraparaumu Library. It will be launched by well-known academic and environmental activist Dr Mike Joy.