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Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea Kindle Edition

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Length: 40 pages Optimized for larger screens Age Level: 4 - 7
Grade Level: K - 3

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Editorial Reviews Review

Caldecott honoree Steve Jenkins offers young readers a quietly stunning story about the world below the watery surface in Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. With his incredible paper collage illustrations of sea creatures and informative text, Jenkins manages to plumbs the unfathomable depths of our oceans for the age 5-9 set in this perfect read-aloud and look closely book. Down, Down, Down captures the vastness, complexity and mysteriousness of the deep without over-simplifying the new research and astonishing discoveries. This oceanography lesson unfolds as a story in which the reader descends from the blue surface down nearly 36,000 feet (that’s seven miles down!) to the Marianas Trench, while meeting Flying Squids and Loosejaw Stoplight Fish along the way. This is an enchanting and informative choice for kids who loved the classic illustrations of Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert and Leo Lionni as pre-schoolers, but are ready to bump up to a nonfiction read. Children’s book collectors will surely want to get their hands on Down Down Down, too.  --Lauren Nemroff

Product Description
Caldecott Honor-winning Steve Jenkins provides a top-to-bottom look at the ocean, from birds and waves to thermal vents and ooze. Half the earth's surface is covered by water more than a mile deep, but most of this watery world is a mystery to us. In fact, more people have stood on the surface of the moon than have visited the deepest spot in the ocean.

Come along as we travel down, down, down, from the surface to the bottom of the sea. Along the way you can see jellyfish that flash like a neon sign, creatures with teeth so big, they can't close their mouths, and even a squid as long as a bus, which battles to the death with a sperm whale, the largest predator on earth. It'll be a journey you won't soon forget!

A Look Inside Down, Down, Down
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Soft Bodies Turn Up the Heat

A Q&A with Steve Jenkins, Author of Down, Down, Down

Q: How much research was involved in the creation of the book?

A: Lot's--I read ten or twelve books about ocean exploration and biology, borrowed or bought dozens of others with photos and illustrations of ocean animals, watched all of the BBC ocean-related TV productions (Blue Planet, Planet Earth, The Living Planet, The Life of Mammals--I feel like David Attenborough is my good friend). And of course I did a lot of internet research. So many deep-ocean discoveries are recent, and lots of things haven't made their way into print yet, at least not into books that I could find. There are a lot of high-quality web sites associated with universities or research organizations. One of the hardest parts was figuring out where to do the descent, once I'd decided to do a surface to sea floor journey. I wanted the water temperature, geology and animal life to be accurate for that specific location. Ultimately, I realized that if we were going to go on this trip, we really had to end up in the deepest spot in the sea.

Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned while working on Down, Down, Down?

A: Probably the thing that got me interested in the first place--the fact that we know so little about the oceans. The longest mountain range in the world--the mid-ocean ridge, which runs for more than 40,000 miles-- was unknown until the 1960s. There are undoubtedly large, still unknown life forms in the oceans.

Q: Which animal was the most challenging to construct?

A: The siphonophore--both lights on and lights off.

Q: What do you think accounts for both adults' and kids' long-abiding fascination with the ocean and its creatures?

A: As a species, we are intrigued with the unknown. It's one reason we've done so well, and inhabit almost every corner of the globe (at least where there's dry land). I think it's the fact that the ocean is at once so inviting (think: a nice day at the beach or a pleasant sailboat trip) and so terrifying (a storm at sea; the dark, cold depths and frightening creatures) makes it especially fascinating. And many of those deep-sea creatures are beyond anything we'd imagined.

Q: Are there certain things a parent/teacher/adult can do to keep the love of science alive in kids? As a parent, what do you do to encourage that love and curiosity in your own children?

A: Listen to their questions, and if you don’t know the answer, look it up together. Buy lots of nonfiction books! Or get them at the library, and read them together. Like so many things--diet, physical activity, a love of art or music--children pay more attention to what we do than what we say. So the first step in encouraging a love of science in children might be to cultivate an interest in it ourselves. And there is so much going on right now, so many amazing things being discovered, that it's not hard to become interested. Our family watches lots of nature programs, such as Richard Attenborough's BBC-produced documentaries. They are a great entry point to natural science.

(Photo © Tim Tucker)

From Booklist

In this plunge into the deep, Jenkins displays his usual keen awareness of what is fascinating about biology and imparts it without sensationalism—the facts speak for themselves. Light becomes an impossibility only a tiny fraction of the way down into the ocean, and the deeper this book goes, the darker the palette and the scarier and stranger the beast encountered. Sophisticated cut- and torn-paper collage-work fit the alien qualities of the subjects well; it’s equally at home capturing the tiered needlepoints of lizardfish teeth as it is delivering an impressive and illuminating display of bioluminescence. The scale of just how staggeringly deep the ocean is, and how little we know of much beyond what happens at the surface, is conveyed by sidebars on each page that drop precipitously from sea level to the ocean floor many miles below. Thorough endnotes give greater detail on each of the featured creatures and help make this a most welcome introduction to the sometimes-surprising world of marine biology. Grades 2-4. --Ian Chipman

Product Details

  • File Size: 4297 KB
  • Print Length: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 4, 2009)
  • Publication Date: May 4, 2009
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003X09YEW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,383,165 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Steve Jenkins has written and illustrated thirty picture books for young readers, including the Caldecott Honor-winning What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? His books have been called stunning, eyepopping, inventive, gorgeous, masterful, extraordinary, playful, irresistible, compelling, engaging, accessible, glorious, and informative. He lives in Colorado with his wife and frequent collaborator, Robin Page, and their children. To learn more about Steve and his books, visit

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh . . . you can hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore and can easily see many different forms of life at the surface, but have you ever wondered what lies deep beneath the ocean waves? Above the waters you can see an albatross searching for his lunch while the Portuguese man-of-war lingers on the surface of the water waiting for his. Every now and then "sea creatures sometimes leap from the water into the air." The great white shark, the flying squid, flying fish and the spinner dolphin break the surface letting us know their presence. Under the surface and down, down, down are many fish we have seen, but also many amazing creatures that appear to come from a prehistoric era.

In this book each page descends a bit further down toward the bottom of the ocean, talks about what you might see around you, the life forms you will encounter, the depth, the name of the zone and tells you many other interesting facts and vignettes like how the sperm what battles with the giant squid "in total darkness." The deeper you go the more unusual the creatures become and the experience seems like something from a fantasy land. In the dark zone it even snows. When "marine snow" falls it might appear to be snow, but is actually "composed of dead plankton, fish scales, animal waste, and bits of larger creatures that have died in the waters above." Below it gets even stranger. Do you dare to go down even further?

This is a marvelously fun book to read and browse. The reluctant reader and confident reader will both experience a WOW connection with this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wine Country Mommy on June 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My book-savvy dad, purchased this book for my 5 year old son's birthday. It has spectacular illustrations that will make you look twice - they are actually very detailed cut paper. My son is fascinated by deep sea life, and when he grows up, wants to be a scientist who goes down in submersibles to study creatures with bioluminescence. This book was great for feeding his insatiable appetite on the subject! I am buying a second copy as a gift for his preschool to have in the classroom. We especially liked the diagram on every page that shows the relative depth of the bizarre creatures as you go further and further down toward the Marianas Trench.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joyce Meggett on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I received Down, Down, Down for my birthday and read it in one go. Each double-page spread covers a different stratum, from the surface of the water on down to the Marianas Trench in the deepest part of the ocean. The cut and torn paper illustrations are beautiful and clever, and there are more facts are to be found in the pages at the back. Who knew that the man o'war isn't a single creature, but a colony, or that plankton is a kind of animal-vegetable-bacteria buffet?

And wait till you hear about the home life of the hairy angler!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Harrison on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is genius. Beautiful and informative. You can't go wrong with Steve Jenkins. He is one of the most brilliant author/illustrators of our time. Your child will LOVE this title.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By darswords on September 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I was young, I wanted to be either a marine biologist or an astronaut. Alas, I spend my time looking at picture-books or reading sci-fi. Girls: you can be these things and there are tutors to help with those subjects you find difficult. Or go to the library and ask for books to help you. Don't be the one looking at the pictures and wishing!

I LOVED the pictures in this book. Well done, dark and sometimes scary illustrations of beasts found where one wouldn't think life could exist. Life finds a way. Humans may not be able to withstand the pressures or the heat, but other beings have found that sulfur is edible! A good thing these beings exist to clean up after the surface dwellers and keep the ocean healthy for others. I think it is grand that where no light penetrates, the animals bring their own. What evolutionary changes would humans bring if they had to live at those depths?

Okay, the book sent me on my own sci-fi. But I think that is what good science books should do. Keep us asking questions.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was the fine print. The font throughout was so small I could only handle it in small doses. And though this would have been a favorite bedtime read for my kids and I so long ago, I can't imagine getting past the pictures. My children wouldn't have wanted to read the words as they had the same tracking problems I have had all my life. I would have had to read it to them. If you have something important to say beyond illustrations why make a person find a magnifying glass to read it?

In the same section in the back, I found the comparison charts to be fascinating. The size of a human compared to the giant squid or sperm-whale absolutely intimidating, and AWESOME!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca J. Winfree on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading reviews of this book on Amazon, I ordered it for my grandson, age 11, who is interested in sea life and in paper artwork. When I first flipped through this book, I thought that some of the art plus the increasingly darker pages might not appeal to a kid. I was wrong. When my grandson started looking at it and reading it, he started telling me about interesting facts he was learning that he hadn't seen in other sea life books or articles; he also thinks it's "cool" that pages get darker as they show deeper parts of the ocean. He has read it several times and keeps it accessible on my coffee table rather than in his bookcase. This book is a winner. I'll be ordering another copy to be shipped to my granddaughters (ages 5 and 8), who live in CA and go once or twice a year to a hugh aquarium.
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