under the sea book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

As a homeschooling mom of seven children under the age of 13, I am constantly on the look out for books that will inspire a love of learning and appeal to a wide range of ages. The Smithsonian has come out with two great new books that fulfill both of those needs for our family.

Smithsonian Sticker Creations: Under the Sea by Emily Rose Oachs is as beautiful as it is informative. My children absolutely love the aquarium section of our local zoo and are attracted to any kind of Under the Sea type of programs that they can find – they have learned a lot! This fact made me wonder if they would find much interest in Sticker Creations: Under the Sea, or if they would be bored by the same general information in many children’s sea life books. Oachs, however, has put together a spectacular book which provides gorgeous pictures (especially adored by my visual learners and pre-readers), great information that goes beyond the general names and habits of sea life, and offers some challenging questions which lead to a bit of competition in our home as the children tried to be the first to shout out the answer and earn the right to place the correct sticker on the page. Even the older children learned a few new tidbits concerning classification and the introduction to a few creatures they had never seen before.

Sticker Creations: Under the Sea is over 60 pages in length and includes a glossary and index, as well as a great collection of stickers! I wouldn’t agree with the “reusable” description of the stickers (mainly because I tested the claim and got in trouble for ripping a lovingly placed humpback whale), but the 3-D stickers that are included are, in fact, reusable and very fun to stick and re-stick on the included framed scene.

My one disappointment with Sticker Creations: Under the Sea would be the binding. The pages, every last one of them, fell out of their glued binding much too easily. On the bright side, it made it easier to divvy out pages and stickers to everyone, but it was very disappointing for an otherwise brilliant book.

discover earth book coverSmithsonian Discover: Earth by Dorthea DePrisco, however, has a very sturdy spiral binding! Its over 60 pages are divided into three sections: “Amazing Earth”, which covers our place in the solar system, the geography of our planet, and its different ecosystems; “The Blue Planet”, which focuses on our bodies of water, including the Great Lakes and a few amazing rivers; and “Wild Weather”, which explores the variety of natural disasters that can and have occurred. Again, as it is a Smithsonian book, the photo illustrations are gorgeous, and each section comes with a neat, hands-on addition. The “Amazing Earth” section includes a globe that the child can fold into being. “The Blue Earth” includes trading cards with beautiful pictures of watery landmarks on one side & the information concerning these landmarks on the reverse side. “Wild Weather” includes an excellent, two sided poster depicting the United States map with photographs mapping out the various “Wild Weather” which we endure (Blizzards in New England, fires and earthquakes in the west, and tornadoes, floods, and drought in between, amidst other things). The opposite side shows the world map, shaded to point out the various biomes and dotted with photographs to show the variety of wildlife that roam their special section of the globe.

DePrisco has done an excellent job sharing interesting information on these beautiful pages, and does so from a very evolutionary standpoint of billions of years. For those readers that come from differing view points, it is easy enough to skip over or talk through those evolutionary differences, and worth doing so as not to miss the great earth science information that is presented.

Because of the fragile binding of Sticker Creations: Under the Sea, and the non-neutral evolutionary standpoint of Discover: Earth, I am going to give both a rating of 4.5.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Alyssa is a wife and stay at home, homeschooling mother of five, with two boxers, two cats, a soft shelled turtle named after Bob the Builder, and 7 frogs (admittedly a homeschooling project gone froggy). In all her spare time, she loves to read and believes that there is no such thing as having too many books!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Smithsonian Sticker Creations and Smithsonian Discover. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.