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Reviewed by Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers' Favorite
Corallai by Michelle Path is a short chapter book that is part fantasy and part educational regarding marine biology and the state of the oceans. A girl named Andi is enjoying being on the beach when she sees a strange sight in the sky. As she looks up, she is enveloped by a large wave that sends her deep into the ocean to an underwater world encased in a bubble. The world is called Corallai. Andi meets Aquanna, a being who is part fish and part human, but she’s not a mermaid. Aquanna says that it will be Andi's job to help save the oceans, but before she explains further, she wants to show Andi around. They see all sorts of fantastic sights and end up in an undersea hospital for injured sea creatures, including a white shark! Andi quickly realizes that she wants very much to help preserve the oceans and sea life.
The premise of Corallai really stretched my imagination (Andi seems awfully calm about ending up under the sea!), but it all worked out in the end. I thought the concept of showing the diversity of sea life as a reason to preserve it was insightful. Michelle Path wrote Corallai for students in 4th-6th grade, and I think students of that age will really enjoy it, especially girls. I know more than one girl of that age who is planning to become a marine biologist and Corallai may inspire even more to do so. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about the book was the illustrations. I thought the cartoon style did not fit the tone of the story, as Path’s writing inspired me to imagine far more intricate pictures in my mind. However, I think kids will enjoy Corallai. May they be inspired to save the oceans!