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by Andra W, April 1, 2016



4 star

 Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean

Series: Science Comics

By Maris Wick

ISBN 978-1-62672-145-6

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott


Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic–dinosaurs, coral reefs, the solar system, volcanoes, bats, flying machines, and more. These gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views of their subjects. Whether you’re a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty-year-old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you!

This volume: in Coral Reefs, we learn all about these tiny, adorable sea animals! This absorbing look at ocean science covers the biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance. Nonfiction comics genius Maris Wicks brings to bear her signature combination of hardcore cuteness and in-depth science.

Review:  Science Comics

Once again Maris Wick provides us an entertaining and educational look at the wonders of the fathomless sea – the living structures of coral reefs. Science Comics: Coral Reefs, is a journey through both the necessity of and impact we’re causing on this delicate life form. Educational in form, the Science Comics banner is right up Wick’s alley. Having published books like The Human Body Theater, her work never used the word “science,” but as a biologist, she has always delivered poignant works that provide budding scientists with appealing material.

The writing is Wick at her best. The structure is laid out more, structured and contains a glossary and further readings guide. For the young marine biologist, this is a vast improvement over previous works – not engaged totally with bombarding you with information, but packaging it out a chapter at a time. Covering most aspects you would expect in an educational book:  from where coral reefs are found, how they develop, their species and ecosystems, biodiversity and most importantly, man’s impact on the 40-60% oxygen source of the planet, Science comics: Coral Reefs delivers in spades.  Clear and concise, not holding back on the difficult scientific terms, I found the writing more comfortable, matching the layout of the graphic novel. Writing educational material for young and young adults, is difficult at best, especially when lying out a scientific book, but Wick pulls through. The glossary at the back is an immense help to children, especially when discussing things in their scientific nomenclature.

The art is yet another thing that Wick has improved on. Panels are lain out more clearly, with not as much clutter on the page. In her signature style, a small fish is your guide through the “story” and narrates the book. Seemingly abstruse pictures of coral reefs are drawn in biological school-book fashion, but the more mundane is simplified and gives life to an otherwise dry read (sorry, wet read). The word balloons simplify more difficult concepts and add humor to the grand design. All and all the panels are easy to follow, flow consistently, and convey the information more clearly, than any of Maris’ prior works.

Thematically, this book does more than merely discuss the biology of the magnificent living structure of the coral reef. It also delivers a strong message on what mankind has done to either help or hinder the ecosystem in which they exist. Touching on notable points such as pollution, in its many forms, and CO2 emissions, to recycling plastics and fossil fuels, Science Comics: Coral Reefs has a dual message to convey. Through raising awareness of the amount of plastics used and the carbon dioxide emissions caused by producing them, to run off pollution by factory or farm, to global warming and its impact on marine life, Wick delivers a strong message about increasing awareness about the geosystem, and offers solutions on how to alleviate some of the more pressing problems – right down to writing governmental bodies. This dualism between teaching the adults of tomorrow about the science and impacts of not just (but primarily) coral reefs, but all marine life and more importantly, raising global environmental awareness really adds charm to this graphic novel.

For lovers of the ocean (of which I number), to budding marine biologists, Science Comics: Coral Reefs should make an excellent addition to anyone’s library.

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