07 Jul

At the Sea Floor Cafe – By Leslie Bulion

Posted in Book Reviews, Education, Poetry, Teaching

I first learned about At the Sea Floor Cafe: Odd Ocean Critter Poems by Leslie Bulion (Illustrated by Leslie Evans) at Book Expo America this past spring.  A book of poems about ocean creatures?  My inner poetry-science geek was instantly intrigued.

While the book is short (I read it in one sitting), you could spend an entire school semester with it and not run out of things to discuss.  In fact, what I liked about this book is that each poem opened up an entire world to the reader, not just with the science but with the poetry structure itself.  Each poem in the book represents a different form ranging from rhyming couplets to free verse, to a pantoum (my personal favorite).  With each poem comes opportunity for a unique lesson plan relating either to the poetry or the science, or both.

My one slight concern with the book is I wonder if it’s trying to do too much.  Reading it in one sitting, the poems began to run together and I felt I wasn’t able to fully appreciate all the detail that went into each poem, both in its structure and in the science behind the verse.  The concept for this book is so smart and unique, I would hate for readers to miss the nuances of each poem by glossing through this book too quickly.

My recommendation for parents and teachers: Ask readers to select one poem and spend time with it, rather than having them read through the book in one go.  The book is short, so the temptation to breeze through it is definitely there, but young readers will get more mileage out of this book if they read through it slowly, one poem at a time.  For each poem, I would encourage readers to do one or more response activities to help emphasize what they learn in the poem.


  • Draw pictures of the ocean critter in the poem.
  • Cut out pictures or search for pictures on the web and make a poster about the ocean critter (what it eats, what its habitat is like, funny behaviors, etc.)
  • Go to the library (or the computer) and look up three cool facts about the ocean critter in the poem.  One rule: These have to be facts not found in the poem.
  • Read the poetry notes about the poem and try to write your own poem in that form.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It has lots of cool facts about ocean creatures, and the poetry notes at the end really show that the author knows her stuff.  Because this book is so full of opportunity for teaching, I would love to see a parents’ guide available to give parents ideas for activities that could go along with this book.  Good teachers will see millions of opportunities with this book and will get a lot of mileage out of it in their classrooms, but for kids reading it at home I think a guide with companion activities would be wonderful.

Overall, it’s a funny and quirky book.  When I teach another poetry workshop for kids, this one is definitely going in my repertoire.


Comments on this post

  1. Madeline Bartos says:

    I love poetry and ocean critters, I’ll have to check this out! 🙂

    1. Ghenet Myrthil says:

      Sounds like a really great book. I think I would have loved doing activities based on these poems as a kid. 🙂

      1. Shirley Wells says:

        Thanks so much for this. I have young children coming to stay in August and was wondering about activities. I’m off to order a copy!

Iggi & Gabi - All rights reserved © 2010-2011

I am a HowJoyful Design by Joy Kelley