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Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean by Gail Langer Karwoski

Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean

Written by: Gail Langer Karwoski

Illustrated by: Connie McLennan

Age Range: 4 and up

Paperback: 32 pages

Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing (March 10, 2007)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1934359017

ISBN-13: 978-1934359013

Water Beds: Sleeping In the Ocean is a very fun and informative picture book by Georgia author, Gail Langer Karwoski. It answers the question of how marine mammals—animals that live in water but breathe air—manage to sleep in the ocean. There are ten mammals covered within the pages of the book, including orca whales, harbor seals, dolphins, manatees, humpback whales, fur seals, beluga whales, walruses, elephant seals, and sea otters. The book begins with a little boy who is about to go to sleep. The question (referenced above) is asked, “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in the deep, deep sea?”

As readers, we get to find out!

The lovely, full-color two-page spreads profile each animal, their unique habits, and solves the mystery of how they actually sleep in the water when they require air to breathe. The book could make a sweet bedtime story, but in no way does the lyrical language take away from the fact that the brief portraits are based on up-to-date scientific research and provide a wealth of information for the reader. Also, the illustrator’s rich oil paintings capture the ocean’s habitats and its appealing creatures. Water Beds is non-fiction at its best—great information with the cadence of a gentle, imaginative story. The pictures also show the slumbering boy within each portrait, and this could be a great segue into comparing the sleeping habits of marine animals to those of humans.

I learned a lot about marine animals as I was reading this picture book. For example, I did not know that as mother humpback whales glide through the water, they create a current that pulls their sleeping babies along with them. Now, that’s a great way to travel!

I also learned that sleeping walruses bob up and down in the water because air sacs in their necks hold up their heads and heavy tusks, while thick blubber keeps them comfortable in icy temperatures.

Additionally, I did not know that sea otters wrap strands of kelp around their tummies before they go to sleep in order to keep them in one place. Fascinating!

Water Beds has been vetted for scientific accuracy by SeaWorld. And as always, Sylvan Dell provides fun “For Creative Minds” pages at the end of the book. Included are fun facts about mammals, trivia about how marine mammals adapt to their habitat, and a ‘Design-Your-Own-Marine-Mammal’ craft. There are also “Related Websites” and “Teaching Activities” on Sylvan Dell Publishing’s website at

About the Author:

Gail Langer Karwoski writes books for kids of all ages. Her work includes novels and nonfiction for middle grades and young adult readers as well as "green" picture books. Her books are inspired by curiosity, enriched by research, and spiced with personality. They are widely used in schools throughout the country and have appeared on state award lists in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, and more. She has been named Georgia Author of the Year in Juvenile Literature three times.

A lively speaker, Karwoski often visits schools, libraries, and conferences to talk about her work. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts and holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, an M.A. from the University of Minnesota, and teaching certificates from the University of Georgia. She and her husband, Chester, moved to Georgia in 1974 and have raised two daughters, Leslie and Geneva, and many bossy cats. Gail taught grades 3-12 in public schools until 1998; she co-wrote her first book (The Tree that Owns Itself) with a teaching colleague.

For detailed info on her books and awards, visit her website:

About the Illustrator:

Connie McLennan has been a successful freelance artist for almost 25 years since attending the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. In addition to Water Beds, Connie has illustrated River Beds: Sleeping the World’s Great Rivers, The Rainforest Grew All Around, Mother Osprey, Ready, Set, Wait!, and Octavia and Her Purple Ink Cloud for Sylvan Dell. She has illustrated numerous textbooks and has provided illustrations for many children’s publications. Connie lives with her husband and teenage son in northern California.

To learn more about Connie, visit her website at

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