YOUNG REED IS THE IMPRINT for a series of children’s educational books produced in Australia and published by New Holland. These two new additions are well-suited to budding and junior divers (likely the children of divers) in the 7-13 age range.
They’re written by Australian photo-journalist Nigel Marsh, who readers will recognise as a DIVER contributor (he writes this month).
These large-format books use full-bleed underwater photographs as a background to each spread, with smaller photos inset and the large type reversed out in white, which has the effect of taking readers under the virtual water and keeping them there.
The books are clearly built around Marsh’s photos, especially the shipwrecks title, which starts out with general observations before moving on to examples around Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, from Yongala and Brisbane to Vanuatu’s President Coolidge and Bali’s Liberty.
The level of detail on each wreck is probably about right to engage interest without risk of boring, and the wrecks all lying in blue waters makes for a more captivating visual experience than a British wrecks equivalent might have done.
The shorter A-Z of sharks perhaps hits the spot best – although we all have sharks in our home waters, for children who regularly visit Australian beaches they probably seem that much more real. I also suspect that unless we’re talking treasure wrecks, sharks may hold more appeal for non-diving youngsters.
From angel to zebra sharks, the selection of species is covered using suitably punchy wordbites with “did you know?” nuggets thrown in.
Did you know that grey nurse shark embryos eat each other in the uterus, with only the strongest pup in each uterus surviving? If that’s an eye-opener for a seven-year-old, it was for me too!
The book also highlights the harm that humans do to sharks, and puts into perspective the levels of risk different species pose to humans.
These books can be enjoyed by young sea-lovers wherever they live. But I did spot quite a few spelling mistakes, particularly in the shipwrecks volume (including “sunk” and “sank” used interchangeably), and the publisher really shouldn’t allow that to happen in children’s books.
After all, they don’t contain so many words that one final check would take more than an hour or so!
Steve Weinman

New Holland Publishers
ISBN: 9781921580307 (sharks), 9781921580178 (shipwrecks)
Hardback, 48pp (sharks), 64pp (shipwrecks), £9.99