THE SEA, THE STORM, AND THE MANGROVE TANGLE

Lynne Cherry, Author . FSG $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-36482-3

Sounding the same environmental cautionary note she did for The Great Kapok Tree , Cherry turns her attention to the disappearing mangrove islands of the world's tropical lagoons. Readers follow the life cycle of a mangrove tree over 100 years, as it grows from a seedling into a large island of branches and prop roots. In a sometimes awkward narrative format that mixes an objective, observational style with anthropomorphized conversations of the creatures who call the tree home, Cherry alerts audiences to the many animals that depend upon this coastal habitat. "A mangrove tree crab scuttled by and exclaimed, 'How can a tree grow in this salty sea?' She climbed the seedling to eat its leaves and made the mangrove her home." While perhaps a vehicle for reaching a younger audience, the personified musings of sea creatures can seem oddly juxtaposed with the field guide–like feel of the realistic, exquisitely detailed paintings of manatees, pelicans and other organisms that swim, fly and crawl across the serene full-bleed spreads. Elaborate, muted underwater scenes of undulating sea grass and aquaculture alternate with more vivid above-water illustrations. The tale comes to a climax when a hurricane hits, and the mangrove provides shelter for a variety of creatures, both above the water's surface and below. A concluding author's note sounds a more immediate alarm about this endangered habitat than does the story itself, urging readers to action. Colorful endpapers feature maps highlighting mangrove habitats worldwide. Ages 6-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 12/20/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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