Deep, Deep Down: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench by Lydia Lukidis and Juan Calle

Hello, Lydia Lukidis! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read. Thank you for taking me to the bottom of the ocean through your beautiful and lyrical poetry in Deep, Deep Down: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench.

Imagine you’re booktalking DEEP, DEEP DOWN: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench to second graders. What do you share with them?

Lydia Lukidis: Hello, second graders!!

Did you know that the Mariana Trench is the deepest part of all the oceans on the planet? I always wondered what lurked below in those icy waters, and I started my preliminary research on the internet. I found all sorts of frightening creatures that apparently inhabited the trench, like anglerfish, goblin sharks, and zombie worms. A real sea of monsters. I wrote my first draft, and included all these creatures. Six months later, I interviewed a slew of experts who have been to the trench and/or researched it for years. And then, surprise! I discovered that most of the information on the internet is false, so I had to rewrite the book. There are in fact no anglerfish, goblin sharks, or zombie worms.

So what does live down there? Strap yourself into the DEEP, DEEP DOWN submersible to find out!

What are three of your favorite facts about the Marina Trench?

Lydia Lukidis: The conditions are super hostile. There’s NO sunlight at all, food is scarce, and the pressure is crushing. And yet, many organisms survive and thrive.

Speaking of crushing pressure, the pressure down there is 1,100 times more intense than at sea level. What does that feel like? Imagine an adult elephant standing on your toe. Ouch!

There are NO sharks of any kind in the trench. The pressure is too powerful. No sharks can survive anything below 13,000 feet.

Please finish the following sentence starters:

Juan Calle’s illustrations took my breath away. He had the difficult task of drawing the creatures in a realistic manner, since this is nonfiction. There aren’t that many reference photos, so that was a challenge in itself. But I also asked if he could somehow infuse the illustrations with a bit of “magic,” because that’s how I imagined the trench after watching hours of videos; dreamy, poetic, and mysterious. His illustrations exceeded my expectations.

Dr. Mackenzie Gerringer was instrumental in the creation of this book! Seriously, I could not have written it without her. She patiently answered my (MANY) questions and vetted the text for scientific accuracy. After rewriting the manuscript over fifty-five times, I finally got there.

John Schu, you should have asked me why I was inspired to write this book. In 2019, I read an article about how scientists found a plastic bag floating in the Mariana Trench. They also discovered the marine animals were ingesting plastic, despite the trench being one of the most remote places on the planet. It made my heart sink and my goal for writing this book was two-fold:

-firstly, to inform children about the Mariana Trench and its magnificent creatures

-secondly, to remind everyone that the trench is part of our world, and what affects this ecosystem affects ours- in other words, everything is connected!

Thanks for having me, John!!

Thank you so much for being here. Congratulations! 

Lydia Lukidis is the author of 50+ trade and educational books for children, as well as 31 e-Books. Her titles include DEEP, DEEP, DOWN: The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench (Capstone, 2023) and THE BROKEN BEES’ NEST (Kane Press, 2019) which was nominated for a Cybils Award. A science enthusiast from a young age, she now incorporates her studies in science and her everlasting curiosity into her books.

Lydia is an active member of SCBWI, CANSCAIP, 12 x 12, and The Authors Guild. She's very involved in the kidlit community and also volunteers as a judge on Rate your Story. Another passion of hers is fostering love for children’s literacy through the writing workshops she regularly offers in elementary schools. Lydia is represented by literary agent Miranda Paul from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Juan Calle is a former biologist turned science illustrator, trained on the Science Illustration program at UC Monterrey Bay. He worked early on his illustrator career for field guides of plants and animals of his country of origin, Colombia, and now owns and works in his art studio, LIBERUM DONUM in Bogota, Columbia, creating concept art, storyboarding and his passion: comic books.


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