Ocean Soup book cover image

Ocean Soup: Tide-Pool Poems

  • 795

By: Stephen R. Swinburne / Illustrated by: Mary Peterson

Dive in for a taste of tide pool soup!

When the tide goes out, a briny soup is trapped among the rocks. Playful poems introduce readers to ten salty tide-pool creatures--from a self-satisfied anemone that brags about its home to barnacles that perform a rap about their feeding technique. The poems are brought to life by Mary Peterson's lighthearted illustrations.

A secondary layer of factual text introduces children to the creatures that inhabit North American tide pools.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Stephen Swinburne, author

Growing up, Stephen Swinburne wanted to be an adventurer, a naturalist, or a marine biologist. For as long as he can remember, he loved to write about his observations of nature and wildlife as he traveled to new places, exploring creatures and their environments. His book Ocean Soup, a book about the creatures that live in the Atlantic and Pacific tide pools, was inspired by a family vacation to Blue Hill, Maine where he visited the tide pools daily. Now the author of over 25 children's books, Steve continually receives praise for his educational yet interesting topics, as well as his ability to make these topics accessible to young readers.

Read more about Stephen.

Mary Peterson, illustrator

Mary Peterson’s story began on a small farm in Iowa surrounded by cornfields and herds of cows. The youngest of six children, Mary grew up in an active household immersed in art. Her mother, a self-taught portrait painter, kept Mary and her brothers and her sisters busy with art projects. She made sure there were plenty of crayons, markers, and paper in the house. During weekly trips to the library, Mary’s mother introduced her to the great Renaissance artists. When her mother began taking extension art classes at the local university, Mary went with her.

Read more about Mary.

Awards & Honors:

  • CELI Read Aloud Book Award

Editorial Reviews:


This brightly illustrated, large-format book offers a collection of poems in the voices of tide-pool animals, including the barnacle, sea urchin, sculpin, mussel, starfish, hermit crab, anemone, and lobster. Each species is presented through first-person verse and a paragraph of information. For instance, in "Hairy Doris," a sea slug introduces herself in four verses beginning and ending with "Hello, my name is Doris. / I'm a shell-less gastropod,/ but you can call me "sea slug,"/ if gastropod sounds odd." On the facing page, a few sentences comment on the animal's appearance, senses, and feeding habits. A colorful large-scale illustrations stretches across both pages. Clean, curving pencil lines with digitally added colors portray the animals in child-friendly, cartoon-style pictures. A glossary and a list of recommended resources are appended. Swinburne, whose science writing includes Saving Manatees and Armadillo Trail, shows his lighter side here, in pleasing and sometimes amusing verse.

Publishers Weekly

Appearing as googly-eyed cartoons, sea creatures discuss life tide pools in these lighthearted rhymes. Hairy Doris, a sea slug, is proud of her unusual appearance ("I'm really rather lucky that/ I have no pesky shell./ Behold my lovely body--/ I'm a stunning tide-pool belle!") and in a poem called "Regenerate," a starfish is casual about losing an appendage: "A crab comes--SNIP!--there goes my arm./ Rude, yes, but I'm not alarmed." Brief paragraphs provide factual tidbits, though the focus is difinitely on fun.

School Library Journal

Poems about sea creatures that inhabit tide pools are accompanied by googly-eyed, often comical, cartoon representations of each one, along with a short note describing a few of its characteristics. Many of the selections are quatrains with rhyming second and fourth lines. Barnacle, sea slug, sculpin, mussel, starfish, lobster, octopus, and more--each describes its own habits in first-person verse, some with a refrain tagged on: "Scuttle to the left, scuttle to the right/ In my new shell, I'll scuttle all night." (The hermit crab). Critters are painted in bright pastel colors--yellow, yellow-green, pale and bright pink, red, and shades of blue. Their distinctive shapes are clear, and characteristic details, such as spines, tentacles, and suction cups, are included. Each spread features a humorous poem, several illustrations, and information about the creature. More fun than purely factual, this collection is an additional choice for poetry sections.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-201-8

ISBN: 978-1-60734-186-4 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 5-8
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11

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