Summer conjures up thoughts of a trip to the beach. Today we have a new picture book that is a perfect selection for accompanying a trip to the beach as well as for celebrating #WorldOceanDay on June 8 and #NationalSeashellDay on June 21, What A Shell Can Tell:   Where They Live, What They Eat, How They Move and More by Helen Scales and illustrated by Sonia Pulido.

Award-winning marine biologist Helen Scales introduces children to the wonders of all molluscs (The British spelling for the phylum is used throughout. In the US, they are called mollusks.) She answers a series of questions, such as “What is a shell?” “What can a shell’s color tell you?”,  “Who else uses shells?” etc.

Because Scales is an expert in the topic, the answers are spot on.  They are well organized, informative, and up-to-the-minute accurate. They are also enjoyable to read. Although the recommended reading age is 6 to 9 years old, I would say that it is more like 6 years old (probably with an adult to help) plus. Adults will likely learn new things from it.

The text is well done, but it is the gorgeous illustrations that will keep you going back. They feature  vibrant colors, the interesting shapes, and water that ripples off the page.

What a Shell Can Tell is great to accompany a trip to the beach, or to conjure up cool waves in your own home. It would be a must-have resource for libraries, too. Enjoy a copy today!

Related Activities

What kinds of shells can you identify in this photograph? Do they all belong to mollusks*?

If a trip to the beach is in your future, be sure observe the shells closely and to take along resources to learn more about them.


  1. Visit the UNWorldOceansDay website for educational resources in the Youth category. Projects are variable, so you’ll need to curate.
  2. Here at Growing with Science we have pages of activities in the ocean science and beach science categories, including:
  3.  Monterey Bay Aquarium has a treasure trove of online learning opportunities.
  4. Check out our growing list of children’s books about the science of beaches and tide pools  at Science Books for Kids.

*In the photograph above, the crab claw shell is the exoskeleton of a crustacean, not a mollusk.

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 6 – 9 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Phaidon Press (June 8, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1838664319
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838664312

Disclosure: An e-ARC of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.