Ocean Seasons

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - Nov 2008

As a homeschooling mother, I am always looking for children's books that contain great education value, not just fluffy stories. Ocean Seasons is the type of book I love. This book is written on a third-grade reading level, but it has the quality of a great read-aloud that younger children would also enjoy listening to. Each two-page spread contains full-color illustrations that are fun to look at.

I love the Arbordale tagline--"Science and Math through Literature." Science is not one of my strongest subjects. Because of this, I get excited when I find a book that my 7-year old can read on her own and learn lots of scientific facts from while she is reading. I have found that much more can be learned and retained through these types of books than through (often boring) textbooks. Ocean Seasons starts out with spring and works through all four seasons, explaining what is going on with ocean plants and animals during each season and introducing the concept of the food chain. In the back of the book (and on the website) are reproducible activity cards, designed to promote further learning.

I was pleased to find that the Arbordale website also has a section called "Teaching Activities" that is broken down by book title. For Ocean Seasons alone, there are 56 pages of teaching ideas (such as writing prompts, vocabulary words, and reproducible worksheets). This is a homeschool parent's dream.

Ocean Seasons is a paperback book with very sturdy pages and a thick paper cover. It will hold up through lots of reading. It retails for $8.95 (US) and is well worth that price, especially considering all the additional resources available online to complement the book. This book would make a great starting point for, or addition to, a unit study on the ocean, the seasons, ocean life, or the food chain. Check out Arbordale's other great selections as well.

Eclectic Homeschool Online - July 2009

Ocean Seasons is a delightful picture book. Author Ron Hirschi takes readers on an underwater adventure through the four seasons. Spring, summer, winter, and fall are explored while swimming with whales and dolphins, and feasting with seals and puffins. The aquatic food chain is shown as each animal progresses though the seasons. The illustrations are beautiful and realistic. Kirsten Carlson uses bright and vivid colors that are very detailed. At the end of this hardcover book, parents will discover food web cards to play a game with their children. Scientific facts about the seasons and aquatic food chains are also provided. Children will love exploring with Ocean Seasons. Parents will love how much their children learn about ecology with this lovely picture book.

Children's Book Reviews - July 2007

Accurately sweet illustrations and edifying text pull the reader into Ocean Seasons. The book travels through the seasons in the ocean, particularly the northern Pacific ocean. It highlights animals, their habits, and their particular place in the food chain. As an example larger fish dine on smaller fish that dine on shiny plankton

There is a lyricism in author Ron Hirschi’s prose, while Kirsten Carlson’s illustrations have a soft movement to match. Children will enjoying copying and playing with the food cards in the activity section while parents and teachers can lead children into deeper study with the mini-encyclopedic pages to follow. This book is highly recommended for children 3 – 7.
-Judith Nasse

Reading to Know - June 11, 2009

We're big ocean animal fans around here thanks to Nemo. What animal we are most interested in changes on a daily basis. Sometimes it's about the clown fish, other times whales and then we can go on a jelly fish kick. Currently we're all about the sharks (which thankfully make an appearance in some of the following books!).

I've talked about how much I like Arbordale books before and these books just solidify my fanhood. They produce some quality reading material all about animals. Imagine a whole line of animal-related books - and you've got yourself Arbordale.

Ocean Seasons takes a look at what is happening underneath the waves as the weather changes. All of the illustrations focus on a particular area of the ocean. An island is included in the landscape so that the kids can get a picture for what is happening both on land and under water over the course of a year's time.

Spring is a burst of color on land and in the sea plants spread their soft, new growth.

We meet all kinds of sea creatures, such as diving birds and seals who are dining on fish that live in the kelp. We also learn about whale migration during the colder months. I really appreciate how the book handles changes in the weather and how animal habitats are effected just like ours are. It's a fun way to look at weather, as well as sea life!

I love Sylvan's books as well because they are sturdy, well-made and the pages are glossier which helps bring the illustrations and animals to life.

If you haven't had an opportunity to check any of their books out - do! I think you and yours will enjoy them very much. I know that we do.

School Library Journal - October 2007

Through large, painterly pictures in soft, natural colors, this book shows changes in marine ecology through the seasons in the Pacific Northwest, comparing it also with land ecology. The emphasis is on food chains and the cycles of predator and prey. In spring, there is new plant growth in the sea, with urchins feeding on kelp and in turn serving as a meal for hungry sea otters. Whales are an important part of this ecosystem, and their yearly cycle of feeding, migration, and breeding is a focal point for this calm, easy-to-read narrative. Back matter includes a spread that has small cardlike blocks with color illustrations of ocean life and lists of prey and predators for each animal or plant. Readers are encouraged to photocopy the cards or download them from the publisher’s Web site and then manipulate the cards to create groups of predators, allowing them to see that some animals are always at the top of the food chain. A final spread has seasonal information about land and ocean ecology. Although this book is not an exhaustive look at ocean ecology, it does give a conceptual glance at seasonal changes and the wide-ranging significance of the predator-prey relationship and the interdependency of the ocean’s inhabitants. It’s a nicely written and illustrated introduction with some unique features, especially the hands-on activity.
Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, NJ

Mom Central - Dec 2008

The ocean is a magical and vast part of our world where many fish call their home and many other mammals depend on. Just like our lives above ground, the ocean activity changes greatly in conjunction with the seasons. Ocean Seasons by Ron Hirschi is a children’s book that tells of the yearly cycle of the ocean and its inhabitants, complete with beautiful illustrations of the undersea world by Kirsten Carlson. Whales storing blubber, baby puffins hatching, fish eating plankton, and many more natural events are all put in their seasonal place in this book. The kingdom under the sea is a fascinating topic and will certainly lead to more discussion and discovery by readers. Parents and teachers will love the educational supplement in the index that continues on the principles introduced in the story.

ForeWord - July/August 2007

Spring evokes images of blooming flowers and baby birds. Seasons bring transformations beneath the Pacific Ocean too in this inviting and informational book, as spring produces colorful plants, summer begets calmness, autumn’s growing darkness causes tiny plankton to die and fall to the ocean floor, and winter drives humpback whales south to tropical waters. Just as on land, the cycle then begins again.

The lyrical text not only describes the changes that occur throughout the year amidst the ocean’s plants and animals but also how they form a food web. Kelp is munched by urchins, which in turn are eaten by hungry sea otters. The kelp forests are additional nourishment for fish, crabs, and shrimp, which in turn are fine dining for birds and seals. Even humans who fish for salmon are part of this elaborate chain.

Hirschi is a biologist who has written more than fifty children’s books on animals and the environment. His books have been honored with the John Burroughs Nature Book Award, listed as a Best Science Trade Book of the Year, and featured on Reading Rainbow. While picture books about the ocean abound, the author offers a unique coverage of this topic. He concludes the text with “Food Web Cards,” which allow children to play a quick card game and extend their knowledge.

Carlson, also a biologist, combines her passion for marine science and art in stunning, realistic watercolors. Rich blues, greens, and purples convey the changes in light and depth above and below the sea. Close-up paintings allow children to observe orcas, humpback whales, puffins, seals, and other fascinating creatures.

While this beautifully written and illustrated book focuses on the Pacific Ocean, it can easily be adapted to life in other oceans. Whether used for research or to satisfy children’s curiosity, this new take on the cycle of life will bring wonderment.
- Angela Leeper

National Wildlife Federation's "Your Big Backyard" - September 2007

Children may be surprised to learn that you can track the seasons by observing changes to plants and animals that live in the ocean, just as you can by watching the cyclical changes that occur on land. Colorful illustrations and simple text show readers how new plants and animals come to life in the spring, and then blossom and grow in the summer. As ocean waters grow colder in the fall, many creatures migrate to warmer parts of the ocean. A section at the back of the book provides a more detailed explanation of seasonal changes, as well as information about ocean food webs.

Armchair Interviews - July 2007

We, on land, are not the only ones who experience seasons. The oceans experience seasons of their own. Only their seasons are told by life cycles and migrations of animals instead of by the colorful maple trees. In this almost hypnotic telling, readers can learn some of the many interesting facts of the changing seasons of the ocean.

This is a wonderful read-aloud. It is smooth, lovely and nearly lyrical. With the right tone of voice I think it could lure a child right to sleep. But it does more than that. Full of interesting facts, it introduces children to the beautiful marine world.

Even though I’m a Kansas girl, I have always been fascinated by the ocean and the life that it holds. This book allows me to share some of that fascination with my children. While we read, we had many interesting discussions about various aspects of ocean life. Every time we turned the page another question would be asked. With that in mind, I look forward to using this book as a bouncing off point in my science class this fall.

Nothing quite grabs a child’s attention like a gorgeously illustrated picture book and this one will accomplish that nicely. Especially handy are the activity sections at the end of the book for curious minds that want to know more.

Armchair Interviews says: Wonderful look at the oceans.
- Jamie Driggers

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database - July 2007

Seasons come and seasons go, on land and in the ocean as well. A unique opportunity for children to capture the feel of ocean seasons and compare them to seasons on land is presented in this book. It tells of urchins, otters, crabs, fish, diving birds, plant life and more when it touches upon the spring ocean season and it paints a summer ocean of calm waters, complete with seals, puffins hatching on shore, and whales finding an easy meal. In addition, well-written text explains that during the winter plankton shines in the depths like headlights. A section on autumn mentions ocean wind and allows readers to understand that sea life feels the shift of season. Material covers the chill of winter waters in part by telling that whales head south seeking warmer temperatures. A cycle is completed as the informative and entertaining text rolls around to spring again. The book seems simple at first glance, it is not. A plethora of information is presented in a non-didactic way. Colorful illustrations add to the total package. This book could be used as a science curriculum supplement. It belongs on library and home shelves, too. Children will want to read it more than once.
- Nancy Attebury

Wee Ones Children's Magazine - August 2007

Have you ever wondered how the seasons affect the ocean and the creatures that live there? Seasons change in the ocean too. Babies are born in the spring, plants and animals grow in the summer and come winter, humpback whales migrate to warmer waters. Ocean Seasons is a straightforward, interesting picture book that shares all the delights of the changing seasons around the ocean.

Realistic illustrations make the ocean and all it changes come to life. This is a great book for parents and teachers who want to take learning a step further. A fun "Creative Minds" section in the back encourages children to learn more about this interesting subject.
- Jennifer Reed

A Readable Feast ( - August 2007

Did you know that the seasons change in the oceans as they do on land? Ocean Seasons by Ron Hirschi and illustrated by Kirsten Carlson, explores seasonal changes in the Pacific Ocean. Like on land, spring brings new plants and baby animals. Plankton lights up the ocean in the summer. Autumn winds blow across the sea, and humpback whales swim to warmer waters in winter.

The "Creative Minds" section - a feature of all Arbordale Publishing books - explores the ocean's food web and its plants and animals. Creative Minds and the Arbordale website are great resources for teachers and homeschoolers. The website features an Ocean Seasons teaching activities PDF that further explores the book, vocubulary, animal classification, and humpback whale migrations. The website also has a page of learning links about kelp, sea creatures from the book, the ocean food web, and whale migration.
- Anne-Marie Nichols

Laura Williams' Musings

My children and I were delighted to find the Ocean Seasons book in our mailbox.

The book is captivating with its beautiful illustrations. The author tells of ocean life in the stages of each season of the year in way that keeps your children's interest and yours.

In the back of the book, is a section to learn more about ocean life and what the marine life eats. There is Food Web Cards that can reproduced. Now being that I am a homeschooling parent, I can see the potential in using the cards as writing prompts, as trivia cards in a homemade trivia game, as well as ideas to learn more about each marine life listed on the cards.

Here is a listing of a few of the cards titles:  Kelp, Urchins, Crabs, Sea Otters, Salmon, Orca Whales

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to have an educational book to read to their children or students that gives them the basis to want to learn more about ocean life.

I give this book a bright line of 5 stars.
- Laura Williams

The Reading Tub - January 2008

Summary: The ocean world has seasons just like we do on land. As the sun brings more light for plants on the farm, there is more light for underwater plants. And when the days are shorter and the air gets cool, the same thing happens deep in the ocean, too. This picture book teaches children about the ocean.

Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, middle reader

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read alone: 8 and up

Age of Child: Shared with a Kindergarten class of 20 students.

Little Kid Reaction: The kids were very excited about the book, and they particularly liked the sea otter floating on his back.

Big Kid Reaction: You don't really think about the ocean having seasons, so I learned a lot, too. It was very interesting, and the students seemed to love it.

Pros: Read this book before you go to the beach! It is filled with fascinating information about the ocean. It covers the cycles of plant and animal life.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a wonderful book that has great value as a story to share AND as an elementary-level guidebook for kids.

Educational Themes: >This is a guidebook as much as it is a storybook. The illustrations and "cue cards" in the back make it easy for kids to identify plants and animals. You can expand your learning by using the guides the publisher offers or by going out to explore your own local water feature (river, creek, lake, pond).

Literary Categories: non-fiction - picture book, nature, animal stories, oceans

Reader's Haven Reviews - December 2014

This book discusses the seasons of the sea - just as the land surface of the Earth has seasons, so does the sea. Plants and animals throughout this book are presented with interesting facts about the ocean. This would be a great book for ages preschool through elementary.  The incorporation of math in the story line adds interest and depth to the value of this lovely book.

The back of the book contains information to help with educational pursuit of ocean ecology in the way of little tear-out cards (which can be copied or also downloaded from the website). Information on the seasons of life, food chain of life, and also yearly seasons is fleshed out for use as an add-in for curriculum, great for libraries, super for pre-beach trips. Further value is afforded by Arbordale with the reading and math quizzes provided on the website.

I recommend this book for any younger child who loves the ocean and wants to learn more about what is under the sea.