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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Ocean One: Only One Ocean, Only One Chance is an environmental science children’s storybook written by Eileen Clancy Biegel and illustrated by Sue Lynn Cotton. As a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, Biegel spent a year on Kure Atoll, which is the subject of this book. Edward grew more and more excited as the plane neared the tiny runway on Kure Atoll. He would be working there as a volunteer for the state of Hawaii. His mom had worked there years ago, when she was on assignment to the USCG LORAN, and she had told him all about her experiences there. Dan was there to greet Edward as he disembarked, but so was Alika, a large and regal-looking Laysan albatross. All around him, Edward could see albatross nests and hear the honking of the birds that seemed to be greeting him personally. He wondered at the huge bird that settled down on the pathway in front of him, spread his wings to either side and looked directly into Edward’s eyes. The next morning, when Edward set out to explore the island, Alika was waiting for him with an urgent request for his help.
Eileen Clancy Biegel’s environmental science children’s storybook, Ocean One: Only One Ocean, Only One Chance, is a well-written and informative book about the devastating impact of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a system of ocean currents, which gathers plastic or other human refuse in its path and deposits it in the Kure Atoll, which is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. Edward’s travels on the ground and his work as a volunteer in the ocean bring him and Biegel’s young readers into direct contact with the netting, discarded fishing lines and other marine debris that is killing off marine mammals and other marine life.
This informative story shows the stunning impact that even a plastic bag or toy balloon left carelessly on the ground can have on a marine tortoise or harp seal thousands of miles away. Biegel introduces environmental science in a clear and uncomplicated manner that makes it accessible to young readers, and gives them a call to action for what they can do in their everyday lives. She includes a Marine Debris Degradation Timeline which includes some rather startling statistics and introduces NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries, including a link to the NOAA sanctuaries page. Sue Lynn Cotton’s watercolor illustrations are outstanding. Her inspired use of washes and color selections, and her skillfully portrayed images of the atoll and its denizens make Edward’s experiences on the atoll come to life. I especially appreciated her drawings of nesting albatrosses, tortoises and marine mammals. Many of her panels are suitable for framing and hanging on a child’s bedroom wall. Ocean One: Only One Ocean, Only One Chance approaches a serious subject in an engaging manner, and it shows kids why they should care and how they can get involved. It’s most highly recommended.