Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier: Beach-themed Children's Book
Debra Frasier’s children’s book Out of the Ocean transports the reader right to the sunny beaches of Eastern Florida. In the book, her young narrator begins, My mother says you can ask the ocean to bring you something. And then, in a lyrical prose style that often waxes poetic, she describes the many gifts she has received from her collecting trips along the beach.
But can you ask the ocean for treasure? The young girl asks her mother in the story. Certainly, she said, just be looking for it. Out of the Ocean reads like its very own gift from the ocean, and through Frasier’s photographs, the ocean returns its treasures to the reader.
Frasier’s photographs include pictures of sand, sunsets, and waves, as well as the unique items that she picked up along the beach. Frasier describes some typical things a person might expect to find along a Florida beach, such as sea shells, sea glass, and a message in a bottle. She also describes things you might not expect to find, such as the skull of a loggerhead turtle, and a massive pile of rope. All of these items are photographed for the reader and presented in a series of two-page spreads through the book.
Frasier blends her lovely photographs with chunky paper collage-art that uses colorful organic shapes, suggesting the warm tropics. Her collages portray brilliant fire-engine red hibiscus flowers with school bus yellow stamens, cotton candy pink morning glories, and radiant yellow beach sunflowers that take on a life of their own. Ocean waves toss and churn with additional texture that the artist/author has glued onto her paper medium. Frasier used different kinds of paper throughout the story to achieve a combination of bright colors and glossy textures. The young girl who narrates her story is a simple paper image with few details. We see the young girl silhouetted against sunny seascapes and brilliant glowing sunsets. Every page is a unique blend of photographic realism and artistic collage that works to create a book that is a treasure unto itself.
Out of the Ocean blends fiction with fact as easily as it blends artistic forms. The book includes a lovely story about a mother and daughter, but also is replete with ecological information and a message that the Ocean gives what it takes in. For young scientists, artists, and teachers who wish to incorporate this book into their lesson plans, Frasier has included an Ocean Journal describing her ocean treasures in detail. This section is enticingly subtitled “If You Look, You Might Find It.” Don’t skip the end notes if your child is older than 3 or 4, because they contain fascinating bits of history about found objects such as a wooden shoe from the Netherlands, and a sunken ship from 1715 that carried gold ingots for the Spanish armada. Her notes also contain information for future scientists, be they botanists, oceanographers, or marine biologists. Young readers can discover information about sea urchins, ocean skates, loggerhead turtles, and many more treasured items.
Frasier conveys an ecological message that is thoroughly intertwined with her artist’s love of the ocean. In a note in her Ocean Journal section, Frasier remarks “Every high tide leaves a new array of objects on the beach, and each one is like a chapter in a story. Our discoveries, some wonderful, others alarming, tell us much about our world and how we humans are affecting the land and the water.”
Frasier’s tone in this story is not preachy or alarmist. Her environmental message is rooted in her deep love for the ocean beach world where she spent 35 years growing up. The book Out of the Ocean is a lovely children’s book that offers much to marvel at.
- Beach combing
- Ocean science
- Ocean animals
- Ocean flowers
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- One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies. This nonfiction picture book about the life cycle of a loggerhead turtle is chock full of fascinating scientific information and beautifully illustrated.
- Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle uses trademark watercolor and paper collage artwork to illustrate the story of an unusual aquatic father, the seahorse, and his encounters with other ocean animals who also happen to be fathers tending their young. Click on the title to read my full review.
- Flotsam by David Wiesner is the Caldecott award-winning wordless story about a young boy who finds a magical camera washed up on the beach. This fantasy book is filled with marvelous pictures full of surprises for the reader to discover.
Explore More Children's Books
I have written over 40 reviews of my favorite children's books here on HubPages. Please feel to explore some of my favorite children's books listed here.
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