Reviewer Chris Phillips: Chris is a veteran editor for friends
and family as well as most of his employment positions. He often
finds himself reading a book and correcting problems he discovers,
even after their works have been published by well-known
publishers. Chris enjoys writing to authors, when
possible, and discussing problems he has seen in the reading of their
work. And as he states, “there is always the chance for great
intelligent conversation whenever creative minds get together.”
Author: Monika Mira
This is a great book, but not really a coloring book.
It could well be placed in the regular curriculum of elementary
schools and used as a teaching tool about Hawaii and the undersea
Author: Monika Mira
Please note this is designated a coloring book by the author; however, content and presentation are everything and according to Mira’s stated purpose, this is an educational tool. In its 112 pages there is a table of contents, a glossary, a bibliography and an index making up 28 of the pages. The information is orderly and, up to the description of the fish, logical. The illustrations are superb. In fact the illustrations are worthy of much more praise then can be given here.
The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book is a massive endeavor. Mira spent countless hours diving in and around the islands to get the information in this book. She is also a great illustrator. Reading the book and following the illustrations I can see distinctions between each fish shown. The extra illustrations of small sea life, shells and environments scattered throughout the book make it enjoyable. It is easy to color each of them and very rewarding for an adult who doesn’t have to stay in the lines but does because it looks better. This could be an effective aid in teaching upper elementary school children about Hawaii. (NOTE: it is classroom tested K-12 according to the back cover).
The descriptions of the fish and the classifications are the major part of the book. There are some issues with this section though. First the fish are not categorized by common name, Hawaiian name, by species or genus in any discernible way. The text notes that some fish are not shown, and that is understandable with fish that often look so much alike. Mira handles that very well, but when certain fish, some endemic to Hawaii are overlooked or barely mentioned the book falters.
Under “General Grouper Facts” Mira writes, “There are only two native species of Grouper in Hawai’i and they are both very rare. The species described here … is an introduced fish…” This begs the question of why not include the native fish as well? Then in another section under “Scorpion Fish” she describes a Tahitian variety that is never seen in Hawaiian waters. Those types of problems leave the reader wondering why the other fish aren’t included. Putting this many illustrations in the work is difficult and the amount in this book is phenomenal, but the inconsistencies and problems mentioned detract from enjoying the book fully. This could be remedied by the addition of some of the missing fish, if they were presented in some kind ordered manner.
The descriptions of the fish, to guide coloring, leave this reviewer in the dark for several fish. The four illustrations on the back cover and the front cover reveal something about the coloring and so serve as guides; however, the instructions were not specific enough in many of the cases to even correspond to what was shown in the illustrations.
This is a great book, but not really a coloring book. It could well be placed in the regular curriculum of elementary schools and used as a teaching tool about Hawaii and the undersea creatures there. It would be improved by the aforementioned changes and inclusions, but is viable as is. The stated purpose, as a guide to identifying fish in the wild, will probably not be realized by the typical reader or crayon artist as it would be.