John Williamson is an Australian singer songwriter who has had two of his popular songs produced as picture books Old Man Emu and Christmas in Australia. Voice of the Sea is a picture book based on a new song he wrote in response to a request from the Australian Marine Conservation Society. It is a plea for us to be better at looking after our seas and oceans and their inhabitants.
The illustrators have used a turtle to personify the ocean, placing it in meaningful spots on each spread. The ocean is the ‘keeper of the whales and all the creatures of the sea – of all the coral mansions…’ The pages with this text show the turtle in brightly coloured attractive seascapes, but then the next page shows a lot of bleached coral and no fish with the text: ‘Where has it gone, your love for me? This refrain is repeated several times bringing the message home. People are mistreating the ocean. More colourful spreads show over fishing, dumping of rubbish, animals caught in plastic bags and more.
This is a gentle message but nevertheless a strong one that effectively raises these important issues with young children. Kudos to Andrea and Jonathan for their attractive and carefully designed pages, each one of which opens up a raft of discussion topics.
Teachers will find this a useful resource when talking about conservation, ecology, waste disposal, marine life and more..