cover image Life in Hot Water: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean

Life in Hot Water: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean

Mary Batten, illus. by Thomas Gonzalez. Peachtree, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-6826-3152-2

A deep-sea submersible shines its headlights through murky ocean depths at the start of this fact-packed read that spotlights an ecosystem thriving at the extremes. After discussing scientists’ 1977 encounter with miles-deep hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, Batten’s instructive narrative details life forms found teeming around the vents, made possible by microbes that “eat the poisonous vent chemicals” to “produce simple sugars on which vent creatures depend.” Gonzalez’s strikingly realistic pastel, colored pencil, and airbrush spreads, meanwhile, offer close-up views of these “extremophiles,” such as a snail that sports an iron-scaled shell. While detail-heavy passages sometimes read with a textbook’s density, stunning scientific facts reward persistent readers, and a brief discussion of the oceanographic finds’ significance rounds things out (e.g., a “study of an enzyme from a vent microbe helped in the creation of a test for the coronavirus”). Ocean facts, an author’s note, glossary, and selected bibliography wrap up this fascinating glimpse into life that seemingly defies all odds. Ages 6–9. (June)