Great Carrier Reef (Books for a Better Earth)

by Jessica Stremer (Author) Gordy Wright (Illustrator)

Great Carrier Reef (Books for a Better Earth)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
An outstanding STEM picture book documenting the transformation of an aircraft carrier that was gutted and turned into the world’s largest artificial reef.

What happens when something designed to be unsinkable gets bombed to the bottom of the ocean floor? With careful preparation, new life can take root!

This incredible story brings young readers along on the journey of the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany—the Mighty O—as it gets stripped down to a steel shell for a new life below the waves. After 25 years of service, launching more aircraft than any other carrier of its time, the ship found a new mission as an artificial reef off the coast of Florida. The Mighty O was prepped and reefed by a team of more than 150 scientists, engineers, and technicians. Today, it is home to a flourishing variety of marine animals.

Designed to encourage regrowth and protect vulnerable marine life, artificial reefs are a crucial tool in the fight against overfishing, pollution, and warming water temperatures. Extensive back matter reveals more about the Mighty O’s history, the diseases eating away at the world’s natural reef systems, and the role artificial reefs play under the sea, and budding marine biologists will love poring over the exquisite illustrations.

Books for a Better Earth are designed to inspire children to become active, knowledgeable participants in caring for the planet they live on.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
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Kirkus Reviews

Recycling at its best.


This unique title with generous back matter will appeal to environmentalists and big-boat enthusiasts alike.

Horn Book Magazine

This clear, logical, and fascinating combination of natural and industrial science concludes with information about reefs and the Mighty O, a bibliography, and an index.

Review quotes

★ [A] fanfare-worthy true story. . . . Matching the subtle poetry of Stremer's writing is Wright's gouache and acrylic art, which juxtaposes the ship's rugged, industrial look with that of colorful, relatively delicate sea creatures.—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

The straightforward narrative is concise but informative, conveying details of the boat's transformation along with blunt facts about a dying marine environment. Full spreads of gouache and acrylic illustrations emphasize the enormity of the ship as it stretches across the pages. . . . —The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

Jessica Stremer
Jessica Stremer is married to a pilot who has deployed multiple times on an aircraft carrier. She has a B.S. in Biology, with an emphasis in Ecology, and her passion lies in inspiring curiosity, wonder, and respect for our natural world. This is her debut book for children.

Gordy Wright is an illustrator and printmaker who paints by hand in gouache and acrylic. Recent projects include Wild In the Streets by Marilyn Singer, and Strange But True by Kathryn Hulick. Gordy graduated with a first class degree in illustration from the University of the West of England and lives in Bristol.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Holiday House
Publication date
July 20, 2023
Books for a Better Earth
BISAC categories
JUV000000 - Juvenile Fiction | General
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Aircraft carriers
Artificial reefs
Oriskany (Aircraft carrier: CVA 34)
Oriskany Reef (Fla.)

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