Monday, April 09, 2007

Book Review - One Well: The Story of Water on Earth

When viewed from space, our home is blue, largely due to the fact that nearly 70% of its surface is covered by water. It is because of this that the Earth is often called "the water planet." Rochelle Strauss' new book, One Well: The Story of Water on Earth, tells the story of our planet's most precious resource. The book begins:
Imagine for a moment that all the water on Earth came from just one well.
This isn't as strange as it sounds. All water on Earth is connected, so there really is just one source of water--one global well--from which we all draw water.
The double page spreads in One Well provide both informational paragraphs and short, factual boxed insets, beginning with the distribution of water on earth, the water cycle, water's essential role in life on Earth and watery habitats. From here, the author looks at how people use, need and access water. The book concludes by looking at demands on the well, pollution, and saving our water.

One Well
provides an instructive and often-times inspiring look at water. Inspiring? Absolutely. The author reminds us that the amount of water on Earth hasn't ever changed. Since this water has been around for billions of year, it is entirely possible that the water we drink may have "quenched the thirst of a dinosaur" more than one hundred million years ago.

There is much in this book that kids will connect with. The author has done a superb job using simplified ratios to help make concepts understandable. For example, in describing how much freshwater is available to meet our needs, she writes:
Most of the water on Earth is saltwater--almost 97 percent. Only 3 percent is freshwater. If a tanker truck filled with water represented all the water on Earth, then the water used to fill a large bathtub would represent all of the planet's freshwater.
This is precisely the kind of comparison kids need to put descriptions of such vast quantities in perspective. The author goes on to discuss how over 99 percent of this freshwater is frozen in icecaps and glaciers or otherwise unavailable, and provides an even more startling measurement to represent the freshwater we can actually access for our use.

In looking at access to the well, the author compares the daily water use per person of the residents of North America, Russia, Poland, India, Nepal, Haiti and Ethiopia. We are told that for about 1 billion people on Earth, water is not found within the home, and that for these people, access to the nearest water supply is often a walk of more that 15 minutes.

While much of the material in this book was familiar to me, I did learn many new things such as:
  • Both tomatoes and jellyfish are composed of about 95% water.
  • Some rainforest organisms live their entire lives in the pools of water trapped by the leaves of the bromeliad.
  • In my lifetime, I will drink the equivalent of a backyard swimming pool of water.
The illustrations by Rosemary Woods beautifully support and complement the text. The pastel and colored pencil drawings provide a varied look at water and the range of organisms (including people!) that rely upon it. One young girl, clad in a red shirt and blue shorts, leads readers through each double-page spread.

As the book draws to a close, it might be easy to get discouraged upon realizing the fragility of the resource we depend upon for our very lives. However, the approach of the author is not heavy-handed. A final section on becoming "Well Aware" provides readers with concrete suggestions for ways that they can make a difference. The book concludes with notes to the adults (parents, guardians and teachers) who will read this book with children.

One Well is an outstanding introduction to our most precious resource. It will not only teach readers about the importance of water, but will move them to action in an effort to conserve it. This title is highly recommended.

Book: One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
Author: Rochelle Strauss
Illustrator: Rosemary Woods
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: March, 2007
Pages: 32
Grades: 3 and up
ISBN-10: 1553379543
ISBN-13: 978-1553379546
Source of Book: Copy received from Raab Associates, Inc.


  1. Thanks for the great review!! It's always great to meet a fan! You can check out my myspace site to learn more about One Well and my other book Tree of Life: the Incredibly Biodiversity of Life on Earth!!

    Thanks again for your support - I very much appreciate it and love to meet follow educators!


  2. Hi Rochelle,
    I have Tree of Life and love it too! I use it with my students and will now use One Well. I also use David Smith's book If the World Were a Village. I think the three of these will tie nicely together.
    Thanks for stopping by and for writing a much needed and wonderful book.

  3. Dear Tricia,

    Your blog is awesome - I always learn something new.

    My life's work is about water and health. If people realized the healing potential of water - from the inside and the outside - they would not squander our resources so much.

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.
    Author of "Health20 - Tapping into the Healing Power of Water", McGraw Hill 2007.