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L'eau and behold: Nine French Books for Kids about Life in the Oceans

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If your children are fascinated by aquariums, dream of boarding a submarine and know the episodes of Octonauts by heart, here are picture books and encyclopedias that will feed their passion. From age 3 years and onwards, they will learn to distinguish the primary marine animals and will discuss with you, in simple terms, the impact of fishing on biodiversity. Around 6-8 years old, they will be eager for more detailed explanations, want to know everything about jellyfish, sea cows, penguins, sharks ... or even prehistoric marine reptiles. Older children (8-12 years old) will be curious to explore the topography of the oceans with 3D maps. Put on a wetsuit, mask and scuba tanks, and dive in!

Cherche et trouve sous la mer

A first step towards discovering marine animals through a playful picture book, filled with colorful drawings, ideal for children. Each double-page has a "Seek and Find" activity which is (most of the time) devoted to an animal: crabs, whales, octopuses, penguins, fish, dolphins, giant squids (and other animals of the abyss) , sharks, tropical fish, seashells, seahorses, polar bears, seals, and turtles. An excellent book for building the foundations of this vocabulary with a fun activity. Age 3+.

La Grande plongée

Set off with Sonarus, a small submarine controlled by a team of scientists to explore the Great Rift Valley. The journey takes them across the oceans, from the polar waters to the coral reefs of the South Seas, from the surface to the abyss. Schools of fish (such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and shrimps) rub shoulders with dolphins and sperm whales. A squid sneaks among the seaweed, jostling jellyfish, and waving octopuses There are angel fish and vampire squid, beluga whales, killer whales and narwhals, clownfish and leopard rays. These are shown through close-up illustrations of the animals swimming, showing the living and moving seas. The exploration is also auditory: a soundtrack of ten minutes reproduces the cries of animals, sounds and aquatic resonances. Age 4+.

La Danse de la mer

A slew of black trawlers (like the characters of a shadow theater) crisscrosses an ultra graphic sea, with tight horizontal lines. Set against a night sky with black and white lines, followed by a daytime sky with cream-colored lines punctuated by the circle of the sun. The trawlers launch their nets of narrow grids. They capture schools of colorful fish. The sea comes alive and the horizontal lines give way to ripples. The netted fish tell of their absence from the sea through empty footprints. The nets adopt the silhouettes of men devouring fish in a greedy feast. But from the sea are born silhouettes of vengeful sirens that, through a water ballet, cause a storm and swallow the trawlers ... This story without words denounces overfishing through beautiful illustrations. Ages 4+.

Au fond des océans

This educational book richly illustrated with photographs is enriched with eight pages of games (e.g. True or False? Mazes, Who am I?) and a hundred stickers (mainly marine animals) that can help children memorize and validate the knowledge they acquired during the reading. Brief and informative snippets of text accompany and describe the illustrations, using simple language, and revolve around unifying themes: the amazing jellyfish; the terrible sharks; the playful dolphins; sea cows (dugongs and manatees), the only herbivorous marine mammals; the majestic coral reefs; the colonies of penguins; explorations aboard submersibles, etc. A playful and easy-to-understand books, aimed at young readers around the age of six.


Dinosaurs, we know. But what about the animals that inhabited the oceans at that time? This picture book begins with a short introduction where we follow a group of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles that lived 147 million years ago and looked like dolphins. The group includes a breeding male, Scarface Giant, and females, one of which gives birth to Minus, the little hero. He struggles to feed himself and survive the predators, but Vieille, the group's oldest ichthyosaurus, is attacked by a pliosaur ... The story then goes on to tell, with a wonderfully educational style, how Vieille's skeleton became fossilized and how it was discovered in excavations near the Arctic Circle. Age 8+

Le Peuple d'océans

Based on Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud's documentary film Oceans, this photographic picture book presents twenty-two animal species, from bluefin tuna threatened by overfishing, to the great white shark, to the unfounded bad reputation of porcupine fish that swells and bristles with poisonous spines to protect themselves from predators, to the seahorse in camouflage attire. The giant cuttlefish, the golden jellyfish, the manta ray, the humpback whale, the sea lion, the penguin, the Pacific frigate, the marine iguana are also on display. Carefully selected, the information delivered is interesting and easily embark the reader in this underwater exploration. It’s important to mention the beauty of the photographs and the friezes that put in motion the swimming fish and animals. Age 8+.

Les Océans, un trésor à protéger

Did you know? We often talk about the Amazon as the "lung" of the Earth but the most active lung is the ocean! Thanks to the phytoplankton or plant plankton that generates photosynthesis and releases more oxygen than all the forests in the world! This informational book describes how the oceans are indispensable to the planet and our survival. Alternately cradle of life, huge "pantry", climate regulator, inexhaustible source of energy, guarantor of biodiversity, inspiration for science, the oceans are full of wealth but they are also endangered territories (due to waste, urbanization coastal, pollution, etc.) It is urgent that we act to protect them as saving the ocean is saving mankind. This is an educational and accessible book, carried by the famous navigator Maud Fontenoy. Age 8+.


Whether fascinating or terrifying, sharks rarely leave one indifferent. Here is a picture book entirely dedicated to this incredible animal, that can be found in almost all the waters of the globe. It appeared 420 million years ago (about 200 million years before the dinosaurs), has survived many extinctions and counts no less than five hundred different species that have adapted to their environment. Physiognomy, height and weight, dentition, feeding, vision, peculiarities, reproduction, hunting techniques, are rigorously scrutinized. Along with this we’ll defuse some stubborn clichés (the white shark eater of men, in particular). The shark’s related myths and legends, its threatened survival and many exciting anecdotes are also discussed. For example, did you know? The smallest shark in the world is no bigger than a pencil! Age 8+

Atlas des océans

While most encyclopedias focus on marine life, this atlas explores the topography of the oceans (without neglecting its inhabitants!): Oceans and continents, seawater, moving plates, marine pits, currents and tides, wind and waves, cliffs and beaches, mysterious bottoms, human activities (exploration, exploitation, preservation). The book devotes a chapter to each ocean (Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, Austral) and is enriched by spectacular photos, ultra-precise 3D maps and transparent pages to understand oceanic phenomena whether it is rising sea levels, or difference between the winter pack ice and the summer pack ice, for example). Age 9+.


Isabelle translates and edits articles into English from other languages on the Bookwitty site. She always adds a hyperlink to the original article in her post.

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