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The Ocean Story
The Ocean Story
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Award Winners Reviewed Titles Capstone Interactive Accelerated Reader

The Ocean Story

by John Seven
Illustrated by Jana Christy

The story of the ocean is as old as the earth itself. Overfishing, pollution, and oil spills have highlighted the need to take better care of our oceans so that the story can continue to be told. With poetic, lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations, this book will introduce the ocean story to the youngest listeners and offer a platform for questions and discussion from older readers.

GenreRealistic Fiction
Reading LevelGrades K-2
Interest LevelGrades K-2
Lexile LevelAD570L
ATOS Level3
AR Points0.5
AR Quiz #161491
PublisherPicture Window Books
Page Count32
Capstone Interactive eBook
List Price: $53.32 School/Library Price

Additional Formats
Price: $17.99


Seven Imossible Things Before Breakfast blog - Julie Danielson

"This illustration is from an upcoming self-published picture book from husband and wife author and illustrator team, John Seven and Jana Christy. The book is all about anarchy. How much do I love this idea and its execution? A lot, I tell you. Jana, as you can see at this link, formerly did freelance illustration work in Boston for major newspapers but now spends most of her time illustrating children’s books and magazines. In addition to writing children’s books, John is a journalist, the arts and entertainment editor at the newspaper where he and Jana live in North Adams, Massachusetts. He is a regular comic book reviewer for Worcester Magazine and often contributes comics-related articles to Publishers Weekly. John (here’s his blog) and Jana got their start in comic books and have published a few picture books. Their most recent title, The Ocean Story, was released by Picture Window Books (Capstone) in January. “The book,” John told me, “was inspired by the Gulf oil spill last year, an attempt to help really young kids understand it in context of the wider picture of the ocean—both the positives and the negatives—and put it into a format that wrapped age-appropriate information within some poetic flourishes that captured the wonder of it all. Jana and I spend most of our travel opportunities taking our kids to visit the ocean—from Nova Scotia to Costa Rica, over the years—and within those trips devote a lot of our daily routine to exploring the coasts that we stay on pretty intricately, so Jana welcomed the opportunity to express some of that affection and experience in her illustrations.” But before I show you some spreads from The Ocean Story, let’s take a look at the other anarchy art: I like this book already. Now for a peek into The Ocean Story, which I’ve seen and which is a gentle (never finger-wagging) tale about the ocean and taking care of it — and what happens when we don’t. (I have to add that I also really appreciate its very simple explanation as to how we get oil from the earth and why we do so. It’s much easier to read my girls this book than to stumble and stutter over my science and social studies, which I usually do.) “Some swim high and pop through to the surface.” “So many creatures are part of the ocean story. The biggest are blue whales. They are beautiful singers. There aren’t many left, so listen to the songs carefully.” “Oil runs our cars and warms our homes. We try to pull it out with care.” “The strange, mysterious, and wonderful ocean creatures watch the ocean turn very dark all around them.” John and Jana started out making comics together. One of their webcomics is Happy Punks, and featured here are some of those cartoons, as well as the cover and some pages from their unpublished Happy Punks book: Here are three cartoons from another of their webcomics (and here is a Dog & Cat treasury to enjoy): And here are two illustrations for a middle-grade reader on which they’re currently collaborating: I thank John and Jana for visiting and wish them well with their careers. John tells me that he and Jana are now represented by Mary Kole at Andrea Brown. It’s an “ultra brand-new arrangement,” he says, and the first time the two of them have had representation as a team. I give them seven cheers. A punk may not cheer, but perhaps a happy punk would. I’ll stop short of spirit fingers, since I don’t think even a happy punk would do that." - Seven Imossible Things Before Breakfast blog

June 12, 2011

Vegbooks Blog - Carolyn Mullin

"How do you write a story about one of the greatest, biggest, and most delicate stories of all time: the ocean? Husband and wife team, author John Seven and illustrator Jana Christy, make a mighty effort to relate a reader’s involvement in The Ocean Story by briefly and poetically (“Jellyfish look like dreams floating into space…”), mentioning the numerous ways one interacts with saltwater: boating, sea shell-collecting, the water cycle, and the beautiful, dangerous and strange sea creatures that fascinate us. Seven spends more time explaining some parts of this story (oil spills) than others. In a page with a picture of fish all caught in a net, the accompanying words simply say, “Sometimes the ocean story is filled with wind and waves and fury,” leaving much to the reader to infer and interpret. Another spread shows fossilized remains of a prehistoric creature (my interpretation) with no explanation in the text. But this just leaves more to explore and discuss with each read. Expressively written and superbly illustrated, this is a timely read for the 1-year anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill." - Vegbooks Blog

May 4, 2011


Children's Book a Day blog - Lady Ida

"This lovely engaging story tells the "ocean story" of fish and other animals that inhabit our planet and how oil spills and other disasters are killing the animals and destroying the planet. The pictures are beautiful. The colors are rich and realistic and can tell the story even without words being included. However, having the words makes the reading experience even richer and rewarding! I love the pictures and the colors. This book is warm, friendly, and engaging. It is a story that parents, families, teachers, librarians, and others should read to children and to themselves. The illustrator uses lots of rich child-friendly pastel colors. There are lots of greens, blues, purples, oranges, browns, pinks, lilac, etc. As we move to the part of the book where we learn about the oil in the ocean, we see oil at the bottom of the ocean... fish skeletons... oil all over the fish... etc. The colors change from bright and friendly to dark and dismal........ Some of the fish seem to have their own personality.... The Blob fish resembles a sad older man.. Where as in contrast, the Axolotl looks like a young happy child playing in the ocean! We see fishermen reeling in their large catch for the day...... The fish are brown and look as if they are toxic because they were in polluted waters........ The next page reads: "Sometimes the water is covered in sludge and goo and trash and other messy things. Things that should not be in the ocean." The photos are realistic. We see milk bottles, water bottles, and other life size trash. They show the oil rigs in the pictures also. "Oil runs our cars and warms our homes. We try to pull it out with care." "But sometimes, things go wrong. Oil goes where it should not be." "The strange, mysterious, and wonderful ocean creatures watch the ocean turn very dark all around them." The ocean has turned from a lovely blue to a dreadful... murky... dismal..... brown! The next picture showed polluted water.. fish and other animals covered in oil... some beached on land.......Oil rigs in the background... smoking... on fire....... "Nothing can live in oil." "Sometimes, the ocean story is a scary one." I won't share with you how the story ends........ You will have to read this story to learn the ending! I recommend this book to everyone. It should be in every home, school library, and public library! This is a great book for story time! There should be a discussion afterwards where students and adults can discuss this book and what happens to our oceans and the environment when there are man made disasters such as oil spills and other disasters! Pick up a copy of this must-read book when you can! You won't be disappointed!" - Children's Book a Day blog

April 18, 2011

CLCD Newsletter - Barbara L. Talcroft

"Seven and Christy, a husband and wife team, love walking New England beaches, exploring tide pools, and spotting whales; together they introduce the youngest viewers and listeners to the vastness of the ocean and the multiplicity of creatures that live in its waters. Drawing their audience in with a brief summary of the water cycle, bright pictures show a farmer on his tractor and kids playing in the rain, boats sailing in a bay. A series of expansive spreads with backgrounds of cool blues and greens (one black for deep-sea creatures) depicts intriguing inhabitants of the oceans from a giant squid and a blue whale to schools of tiny fish and curious creatures like sea stars and crinoids. Especially beautiful is a scene of jellyfish zooming upward through dark blue waters. Then the mood changes: viewers see a furious storm with fishermen hauling in a huge catch and a place where plastic junk pollutes the sea. Cleverly, author and illustrator focus on an undersea oilrig sharing space with serene, swimming ocean-dwellers. Oil begins to leak; we see divers with torches looking for the break, then oil pouring into the sea and a devastated beach with an oil-soaked gull. The text points out that the ocean is delicate and we need to do our part to keep its story alive. Through a minimum of text and vivid, evocative paintings (and endpapers full of sea dwellers), the artists allow space for budding oceanographers to become aware of both the beauty and the impending destruction of our ocean habitats and for discussion of how humans might begin restoring the balance vital for their survival." - CLCD Newsletter

August 1, 2011


School Library Journal - Gay Lynn Van Vleck

"Endpapers filled with images of ocean life are the auspicious beginning of this beautiful eco-tale. “Why is the ocean so big?” a youngster asks the adult holding his hand at the shore. “It needs to be big to hold a story that is so very old.” Seven poetically explains the water cycle, then explores some odd creatures of the deep, each labeled. Finally, oil drilling’s pluses and minuses are touched upon, and readers learn that the “ocean story is a delicate one.” This splendid call to stewardship is gloriously illustrated with paintings, each a gift of color and texture that encourages lingering. The spread filled with jellyfish nearly glows, and the various depictions of rainfall bring home the scope of the topic. This book is a perfect blend of poetry, visual art, and science." - School Library Journal

July 1, 2011

Simply Science blog

"The Ocean Story relates the events occurring in the ocean told by an adult to a young child. In lovely, spare language, the water cycle, the creatures in the ocean, and the problems affecting its waters are presented in a straightforward style that young children can easily understand. It’s a simple explanation for these concepts and perfect for an introduction to all the aspects of the oceans in today’s world. The art is appealing and child-friendly. The more unusual creatures are named in the art and some of them are presented with the sounds they make. The art highlights the problems that take place, including oil spills, while presenting a beautiful palette of colors that show the story as it unfolds. The book ends with the idea that the earth and oceans are part of one another, and we must do our part to keep the ocean story alive." - Simply Science blog

July 6, 2011



Creative Child Magazine

2011 Creative Child Award, Seal of Excellence Award Storybooks for Kids category

November 1, 2011

Newton Marasco Foundation

Newton Marasco Foundation

December 1, 2011

Neumann University Library and the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies

2012 Frances and Wesley Bock Book Award for Children's Literature

August 1, 2012

John Seven

John Seven

John Seven grew up in the 1970s, when science fiction movies and TV shows were cheap and fun. His favorites shows were The Starlost, Land of the Lost, and Return to the Planet of the Apes, and he loved time travel most of all. John collaborated with his wife, illustrator Jana Christy, on the comic book Very Vicky and a number of children’s books, including the multi-award-winning The Ocean Story, A Year With Friends, A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide To Anarchy, and Happy Punks 1-2-3. John was born in Savannah, GA and currently lives in North Adams, MA with his wife and their twin sons, Harry and Hugo, where they all watch a lot of Doctor Who and Lost together.

Go to the Author’s Page →