For anyone seeking to supplement an ocean animals study with learning about the animals of the Maria Trench, you don’t need to look any further than Deep, Deep Down by Lydia Lukidis, illustrated by Juan Calle (Capstone, 2023). This nonfiction poetic picture book does a wonderful job of matching its intended audience with tone, text, and illustrations.
In the author’s note to Deep, Deep Down, Lydia Lukidis writes that once she learned about the creatures in the Mariana Trench, she was surprised to find that they were slow and graceful, not monsters. Her picture book, which is subtitled The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench, perfectly captures this lovely feeling, with poetic text describing the animals and a feeling silence and reverence as an imaginary submersible sinks to the bottom of the Challenger Deep.
Lukidis adds informational sidebars to give more details about the creatures, with just the right amount of text. Even if I read the sidebars at the same time as the more lyrical text, it still works well to read together. Younger children may simply enjoy the poetry as they read with a parent. Older children would enjoy both.
Along with the text, there are simply gorgeous and (is this the right word?) cute illustrations of these creatures. Who would have thought the creatures like the snailfish, the crinoid, and the single-celled xenophyophore (which makes a solid structure out of its poop) would appear so lovely and friendly? This illustrator did a wonderful job of matching the feel of the author’s text with a gentle illustration style.
Although I know very little about the Mariana Trench, I know even less about the animals of the very deep. Even as an adult I learned something from Deep, Deep Down. End matter answers some basic questions about the Mariana Trench, as well as shares some reasons why further exploration is useful to the world.
I felt the text did a great job of reminding a young reader that there is always more to research. Maybe they can be the next scientist to do so!
I received a digital review copy of this book.