A Sea within a Sea: Secrets of the Sargasso

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9780448424170: A Sea within a Sea: Secrets of the Sargasso

A best-selling author/illustrator explains how, amid the cold Northern Atlantic Ocean, there is a mysterious, warm, "sea within a sea" whose whirlpool-like currents breed a variety of wildlife.

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About the Author:

After receiving a fine arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley and completing two years of graduate work in design at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, Ruth Heller (1923-2004) began her career designing wrapping paper, cocktail napkins, greeting cards, and coloring books. After five years of rejection and one complete revision, Heller's first book, Chickens Aren't the Only Ones, about egg-laying animals, was published in 1981. It was so successful that the sequel, and second book to be published, Animals Born Alive And Well (1982), about mammals, quickly followed. In 1983 and 1984, her third and fourth titles, The Reason For A Flower (about plants that have seeds and flowers) and Plants That Never Ever Bloom (about plants that do not) were published.

She then began work on a collection of six books, the How To Hide series on camouflage and the magic of this phenomenon in nature, which covered the entire animal kingdom -- insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and sea creatures. The next collection of books became a five-volume series on parts of speech: A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns; Kites Sail High: A Book About Verbs; Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives; Merry-Go-Round: A Book About Nouns; and Up, Up and Away: A Book About Adverbs. She also wrote and illustrated the unique and fascinating book Color, a charming and instructive guide to how art goes through the four color printing process.

Among the notable people who have had an influence on Heller's writing have been: Ogden Nash, Gilbert and Sullivan, Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, and Dr. Seuss. Heller says of her work, "All my books are nonfiction picture books in rhyme. I find writing in rhyme enjoyable and challenging, and I think it is an easy way for children to learn new facts and acquire a sophisticated vocabulary. Children are not intimidated by big words. I try to make my writing succinct and allow the illustrations to convey as much information as possible."

From School Library Journal:

Gr 3-5-"Portugese explorers named this sea `The Sea of Grapes' when they saw the fields of seaweed full of golden global shapes." These globes and leaves of seaweed fill several blue expanses in this poetic introduction to the Sargasso Sea, best known to children for that segment of it called the Bermuda Triangle. Heller's rhythmic, rhyming commentary on the history, geography, and animals of this "sea within an ocean" emphasizes scary aspects. Sea creatures show their terrible teeth and swallow ships and humans in the more dramatic views. Double-page spreads feature gold or tan fierce fish that blend with the seaweed and others of the black inky ocean bottom with fish outlined in white and shaded in rusty pastels. From fanciful views of brightly colored sailing vessels to a final cartoon view of a gentleman savoring a plate of eels, this is a quick pass over sunken ships, repeated masses of seaweed, and monstrous and more benign animals. There's only the barest reference to the mysterious disappearance of ships and planes, and no concluding notes are offered to expand the minimal information. Broadly sketched maps on the first and last pages show the location of the Sargasso Sea and the Bermuda Triangle. A few references will be vague for children, but some readers will enjoy the innuendoes of monsters and mystery.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Ruth Heller
Published by Grosset & Dunlap (2000)
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