The best children’s books about mermaids, scientists and sea creatures

Why am I passionate about this?

The shore was my first great love, the falling in love-kind. I grew up in Houston, a short distance from the Texas coast. My parents took us there often. Back then, in the 70s, I found a wealth of treasures: sand dollars, urchins, seahorses, starfish, and mollusks. Since then, the treasures have diminished considerably. It’s rare to find any of these animals that were once common. In my research on oceans, reefs, and Earth’s many animals and habitats, I’ve learned that many are endangered and that habitat loss due to human activity is the primary culprit. My contribution to help restore the Earth’s health is through children’s books.


I wrote...

Mermaids' Song to the Sea

By Dianna Hutts Aston, Renee Kurilla (illustrator),

Book cover of Mermaids' Song to the Sea

What is my book about?

In my book, a trio of best mermaid friends sing to their friends in the coral reef, home to whales and turtles, angels and dragons, blue-eyed scallops and piglet squids, nurses, surgeons, kings, and queens. (Yes, really!)

Their song is a rhyming lullaby of blessings, a deeply heartfelt prayer that their friends–and every crystal of water!–have a happy, safe, and healthy life under the sea.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist

Dianna Hutts Aston Why did I love this book?

I love this book because it features one of my favorite kinds of nonfiction children’s books–female scientists who make important contributions to understanding and enlightening people about little-known animals.

Eugenie loved sharks from childhood. Her curiosity about them made her face any challenges, and with courage and passion, she pursued her dream of studying sharks and eventually, fearlessly swimming with them! In her early years, people didn’t encourage girls to be scientists, and it was commonly thought that sharks were evil and dumb. She proved them wrong on all counts. This book inspires girls–and boys–to pursue their passion with perseverance and courage.

By Jess Keating, Marta Álvarez Miguéns (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Shark Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

One of New York Times' Twelve Books for Feminist Boys and Girls!
This is the story of a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. This is the story of Shark Lady. One of the best science picture books for children, Shark Lady is a must for both teachers and parents alike!
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
Named a Best Children's Book of 2017 by Parents magazine
Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn't imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But…


Book cover of We Are Water Protectors

Dianna Hutts Aston Why did I love this book?

I love this book because its title reflects how I feel about water: protective. Young Nokomis, a girl of the indigenous Ojibwe people, learns that humans are born of water, and it is sacred. She says that the “river’s rhythm runs through my veins.” I feel the same way.

Finding ways to protect it is a large undertaking, but there are simple ways too. Praying, especially in song, is one. Nokomis reminds us that all of us, humans, animals, and elements, are interconnected. I agree with this sentiment: We Are One. Her prayer is mine. We must stand strong and work together, pray, and sing together as one of the everyday activities to acknowledge the sacredness of water.

By Carole Lindstrom, Michaela Goade (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked We Are Water Protectors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal
#1 New York Times Bestseller

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption―a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.


Book cover of The Hidden Messages in Water

Dianna Hutts Aston Why did I love this book?

I love this book because it is about water crystals and the effects of positivity and negativity on their formation. I also love that it contains a theme I consistently seek: pursuing your dreams despite what others say to discourage you or belittle your idea.

Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto shows us through text and photos what form a water crystal takes when it “hears” beautiful music and benedictions versus heavy metal sounds and demeaning, scary words. Though not technically for children, I think its message is one they should know and even be raised on. The fascinating photos show the beauty of crystals and, sadly, their deformity depending on what they are exposed to. The simple acts of singing and praying not only lift us up, but they also have a mysterious power to honor water and acknowledge its sacredness. 

By Masaru Emoto,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Hidden Messages in Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book has the potential to profoundly transform your world view. Using high-speed photography, Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. The implications of this research create a new awareness of how we can positively impact the earth and our personal health.


Book cover of The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs

Dianna Hutts Aston Why did I love this book?

I love this nonfiction book because it is about innovatively rebuilding Earth’s dying reefs. I also love biographies about ordinary humans who have achieved great things by pursuing their dreams–achievements born of compassion for the planet, its people, and the health and survival of all.

It’s the story of one man’s efforts to build more coral reefs. A second subtitle is The Story of Ken Nedimyer and the Coral Restoration Foundation. The book begins and ends with a provocative sentence: “It starts with one.” One polyp can grow into a life-giving reef. One person can rebuild dying reefs, create new ones, and create foundations so that others can support his vital work. Ken’s method is working! 

By Kate Messner, Matthew Forsythe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Brilliant Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

The Brilliant Deep is the proud recipient of the ALA Notable Children's Books Award, the NSTA-CBC Best STEM Trade Books Award, the Junior Library Guild Selection and the ILA Teacher's Choices.

All it takes is one: one coral gamete to start a colony in the ocean, one person to make a difference in the world, one idea to help us heal the earth. The ongoing conservation efforts to save and rebuild the world's coral reefs-with hammer and glue, and grafts of newly grown coral-are the living legacy of environmental scientist Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation.

In telling…


Book cover of Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem

Dianna Hutts Aston Why did I love this book?

What is a whale fall? The title captivated me. I learned, via lyrical text, that whale fall is when a dead whale sinks to the ocean floor and, like a tree, provides food and shelter to a host of animals, “deep-sea denizens,” for 50 years or more. Its skin, blubber, bones, and all invite the scavengers to feast: hagfish, sleeper sharks, eelpouts, rattails, crabs, mollusks, microbes, and more until eventually, the “last trace of the mighty whale is gone.”

I also love that the back matter includes esoteric and detailed facts about the scavengers. The book inspires curiosity. I had never thought that animals could provide food and shelter for decades. Now I want to know what other animals do this!

By Melissa Stewart, Rob Dunlavey (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whale Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This fascinating nonfiction picture book filled with stunning illustrations details the end of life for a whale, also known as a whale fall, when its body sinks to the ocean floor and becomes an energy-rich food source for organisms living in the deep sea.

When a whale dies, its massive body silently sinks down, down, through the inky darkness, finally coming to rest on the silty seafloor. For the whale, it's the end of a 70-year-long life. But for a little-known community of deep-sea dwellers, it's a new beginning. First come the hungry hagfish, which can smell the whale from…


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Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

Book cover of Return to Hope Creek

Alyssa J. Montgomery Author Of A Spanish Seduction

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian USA Today bestselling romance author who writes contemporary romance and uses the pen name Alyssa James to write medieval romance. I think the makeover trope resonates with me because although I’m no beauty queen now, I was definitely an ugly duckling in my teens. For reasons best known to him, my father insisted on close-cropped hair, and financial circumstances dictated out-of-style hand-me-down clothing. After university, I found my own style, but it wasn’t until I was accepted as an international flight attendant that I believed that I couldn’t be all that ugly if Qantas employed me!

Alyssa's book list on makeover romances

What is my book about?

Return to Hope Creek is a second-chance rural romance set in Australia.

Stella Simpson's career and engagement are over. She returns to the rural community of Hope Creek to heal, unaware her high school and college sweetheart, Mitchell Scott, has also moved back to town to do some healing of his own.

Mitchell, a former NFL quarterback, doesn't need the complication of encountering Stella again so long after the messy end to their relationship, but as each tries to build a new life, they are drawn together and find their chemistry is just as strong as ever.

Will their love be stronger the second time around?

Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

What is this book about?

When two old flames come back to their home town, sparks are bound to ignite. A rural romance from USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery.


A horrific car accident ended former world number-one Stella Simpson’s tennis career, and a betrayal ended her relationship with her fiancé/coach. When a family friend offers to sell her half of a property in the rural community where she grew up, it seems like the perfect place to escape, heal and begin the next phase of her life. Until she discovers that the man who broke her heart ten years ago has bought the…


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