Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Miss L'eau by T. Katz - Book Review

"Miss Leau's eyes were as blue-green as the sea, and if you could get up the courage to stare right into them, you'd swear you could see angel fish, sea plants, coral beds and even sea anemones!! It was the most wonderful, yet frightening, experience when she would talk to you face-to-face."
- Miss L'eau by T. Katz

In April, my daughter's preschool class studied water pollution for Earth Day. The teachers found a large pickle jar, filled it with water and added blue food coloring. They explained that the jar represented clean water where fish and other animals thrived. Next, they added dirt to the same jar making a brown, dirty color. Then they asked the kids to add litter (some candy wrappers and plastic bottle rings) to the "dirty water." Last, they threw in a couple of plastic fish. The fish floated to the top and looked dead. They explained to the class that the murky jar represented water pollution and discussed the effects of pollution on the animals and plants living in the lakes, rivers, streams and oceans. This amazing visual depiction certainly left quite an impression on the kids and also caused even me to think hard about water pollution.

Miss L'eau, a mysterious chapter book that focuses on ocean pollution, leaves a similar lasting impression. The book, written by J. Katz, follows two elementary school-aged boys named James and David who reside in a fictional seaside town called Grant's Harbor. There is something different about Miss L'eau, the boys' teacher. Her eyes are like portholes to the sea and when students stare into them they see sea creatures, clouds and waves. The boys become curious about her background and one stormy evening James witnesses an amazing occurrence when he follows Miss L'eau to a nearby lighthouse. Shaken to the bone, James struggles to make sense of what he saw. In their quest for the truth, the boys end up learning a lot about the ocean and discover why it is necessary to clean up debris and protect the coastline.

This short fantasy is certain to interest all elementary school students, especially those that like myths and legends. The mystery surrounding the aptly named Miss L'eau (the French term for water) pulls readers into the story like a strong ocean current. In a fun, engaging way, the book also encourages awareness of the need for ocean conservation and discusses the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the community. The book itself is an entertaining and educational read and deserves a more professional and trendy cover to lure younger readers. I loved Katz's reference to an ecosphere (a self contained aquarium). I've dreamed of owning one of those! Miss L'eau would be a useful tool for teachers to use in water pollution units and also a good title for marine museums and aquariums to stock in their stores.

Miss L'eau by T. Katz. Windstorm Creative/Orchard House Press (June 2009); 60 pages; ISBN 9781590924044; paperback
Book Source: Review copy provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion

Image source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Digital Library/Hollingsworth, John and Karen

Related links:
T. Katz, author website
Pump Up Your Book Promotion Miss L'eau Virtual Blog Tour
Miss L'eau Promotional Trailer (YouTube)
Ecosphere Closed Ecosystem, Self Contained Aquarium
Mermaid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Kristi said...

T. Katz is stopping by my blog on the 22/23 for a guest post! I think this book looks great.

Unknown said...

Sounds like a very interesting book. I always like to read books with my children that teach the reader something, and I love mysteries.
I look forward to reading it.

Renee Hand
Author of The Crypto-Capers Series
An interactive story for children.

Lorie Shewbridge said...

Nice review, great for any teacher out there -- I have forwarded the review to a friend of mine who is a teacher. Thanks.