Reading with Sophie


I thought Sophie would be intrigued by Sylvia A. Earle’s first-hand account, Dive!: My Adventures in the Deep Frontier (National Geographic Society, 1999). Earle, a legendary marine biologist and ocean explorer, starts off with a note that immediately engaged Sophie. “If you want to . . ., ” Earle begins and continues with a series of possibilities. She concludes: “I know such things are possible because I have had the fun of doing them and have glimpsed how much more there is to discover.” Opposite the note is a full page color photo of Earle wearing scuba equipment & eyeballing a jellyfish, with the caption: “Jellies, such as this lacy beauty, collapse into great gobs of goo on the beach. The best way to get to know them and other sea creatures is to go where they live—underwater.” Sophie & I laughed at the descriptive phrase “great gobs of goo” (and delighted in the alliteration!) because we’ve seen them during our many walks along the beach at the Jersey Shore. There’s lots of text, but Earle’s personal style held Sophie’s attention until I read about the summer she went to “the whales’ dining room—the plankton-rich waters of Glacier Bay, Alaska.” Then she interrupted me to ask:
“Grammy, why did she say ‘dining room?’”
“That’s an interesting question. I wondered about that too,” I replied. “Perhaps she thought it would be easier for readers to understand that that’s where humpback whales go to eat. Sometimes writers do things like that. What do you think? Did she need to write ‘dining room’? Was it a good idea?”
“No,” she said. “But keep reading, Grammy.”

Earlier in the book Earle reported that humpback whales make “short grunts and squeals.” At which point, I interrupted my reading to say, “That’s the sound I made when I sat down on the floor to read this book with you!” She laughed; me too!

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