Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Reading age: 8 to 12
A lavishly illustrated story that teaches children about the marine ecosystems of coastal Pacific rocky shores.
Siblings Crystal and Sam and their Aunt Kate and Uncle Charlie explore the tide pools of Eagle Cove, a sheltered inlet on the Northwest Pacific Coast. The children discover that you don’t have to go far to encounter a great variety of remarkable creatures, including crabs, sea stars, sea anemones, sea urchins, snails, shrimps, clams, jellyfish, and much more. With the help of Ada, an Indigenous woman, the children learn about Raven’s intelligence and playfulness and encounter Grandfather Sculpin, a wise Tidepool Sculpin who leads them on a magical tour through the High Tide, Middle Tide, and Low Tide zones. The fantasy enables the children to view the undersea world through the eyes of an ancient fish.
Lavishly illustrated with colourful and scientifically accurate drawings, Explore the Rocky Shore with Sam and Crystal is both an entertaining story and a useful learning tool created with collaboration from Indigenous educators and elders.
About the authors
Gloria Snively is a professor emeritus of science, environmental, and marine education in the Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, and a former classroom teacher of primary and junior secondary grades. She is a founding member of the Northwest Association of Marine Educators and the author of the classic bestselling field guide Exploring the Seashore in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, now in its eleventh printing. Her passions include curriculum development; First Nations education; giving natural history workshops to teachers, park interpreters, and community groups; and exploring the stunning seashores of the west coast. She lives in Sooke, BC.
Karen Gillmore has been an artist since she could hold crayons. In addition to being a children’s book illustrator—most notably of the Sam and Crystal series—she also draws and writes comics and illustrates graphic novels.
Gloria Snively’s beautiful book fires up the imagination and makes learning fun and effortless.
Holly Arntzen, eco-songwriter/singer/producer, Artist Response Team (ART)
Explore the Rocky Shore continues the adventures [of Sam and Crystal] with a salmon fishing trip followed by the children’s explorations in the remaining tidal zones – Middle Tide Zone and Low Tide Zone. Since the tide remains too high during their visit for casual observations, they are magically transformed into sculpins and led by Grandfather Sculpin, an ancient one from the sea whom Indigenous elders respect for his wisdom about life at the seashore. They enjoy an underwater excursion with this “oldest and wisest of the sculpins” who has “a mind that can think like a fish and talk with people”. Sam and Crystal encounter more marine wonders and learn about their habitats and the interconnections in nature.
Gillian Richardson, Canadian Materials
As Sam and Crystal explore the coast with Uncle Charlie, Aunt Kate, Ada, and Grandfather Sculpin they come to understand the interconnectedness of all things through food gathering, food preparation, and giving thanks to the salmon. Throughout the story, the children receive teachings about the importance of respecting and making wise decisions about the ocean and our plant and animal family.
'Nalaga Donna Cranmer, 'Namgis First Nation, Principal of Wagalus School, Fort Rupert, BC
[R]ecommended for school and public libraries regardless of their proximity to the west coast. The text and illustrations are clear and both author and illustrator use a unique imaginative approach to the topic. The story could be read to class over an extended period as an adventure story and supplement to ecological studies. The illustrations could be used as an example for art classes. Although works of fiction the books contain a wealth of accessible facts.