Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean
Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean is one of two debut books in a new non-fiction graphic novel line from First Second, and it’s wonderful. Just as she did in Human Body Theater, Maris Wicks takes a complex scientific subject and makes it both understandable and beautiful.
Our narrator is an adorable cartoon of a glasses-wearing fish who wants to show us its home in the coral reef. Five chapters cover what coral is, the different types, how coral reefs form, the ecosystem around them, and their connection to the rest of the planet.
Surprisingly, the topic lends itself to wandering into other areas, such as scientific nomenclature (genus and species) and groupings of animals, including the coral group cnidarians. There are a ton of different organisms, from octopus to giant clam to plankton, that live near or in a reef, so the book expands to cover a bunch of them that make up this food web.
I really like Wicks’ treatment of topics like these. Her drawings are cute, friendly, and welcoming, but they’re also educational. She covers the facts but includes jokes and talking fish, making it all entertaining. Although she uses plenty of words, to make sure concepts are clearly explained, she works with them to keep panels interesting.
I suspect the last chapter, the one about climate change, will upset some who prefer politics to fact. I applaud the publisher and author for including it, though, as it grounds this knowledge in reasons it matters. It’s great to connect this information to steps readers can take to improve the planet and keep the reefs safe, including why we should care (a little matter of enough breathable oxygen). Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean also has a brief glossary, a cross-section diagram of a coral polyp, and a bibliography.
I had no idea there was so much to know about coral reefs. While obviously targeted at the educational market, this comic is a good read for all ages.
Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean can be preordered from your local comic shop with Diamond code MAR16 1492. There’s also a hardcover edition (MAR16 1493). (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)