My Books

Jellyfish Inside Outjellyfish cover3

Written by Michelle McKenzie, published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Press, 2004, written for 9-12 years

Finalist- Independent Publishers Book Awards

Have you ever found a jellyfish washed up on the beach? There’s not much left to this animal when it’s out of the water and has begun to dry up, is there? Just a jelly goo. That’s because, unlike a fish, a jellyfish as no body skeleton to cling to, no tough layer of scales to hold it together. Unlike a fish, a jellyfish has no heart, no brain, no blood.

A jellyfish is a simple animal made up of three main parts: some tentacles, a mouth and a bell—that gooey, umbrella-shaped body. And it’s 95% water! With only two thin layers of cells and some gel between, both holding it all together, the jellyfish is pretty fragile.

At the Monterey Bay Aquarium we group all gelatinous animals under the term of jelly. Comb jellies, gooseberry jellies and Portuguese man-o-war look like jellies. They have the same gel-gooey look, and some of them can sure sting you, but they differ from jellyfish in interesting ways. On the following pages are the four kinds of gelatinous animals we’ll be talking about in the book. The diagrams will show you the differences between them.


Although it’s not the brainiest creature in the sea, the jelly isn’t totally without resources. Nerve cells signal the muscles in the bell that food or danger is nearby. The jelly can then move away from danger or toward the food source. Sensors around the rim of the bell let the jelly know if it’s heading up or down, so it can correct its position as it needs to.

Jellies don’t have real eyes either, just eye spots. While these eye spots don’t form images they might help jellies detect food and danger. When a jelly needs to travel toward the light, the eye spots help it find its way. The box jelly is an exception to this. It has amazingly complicated eyes that can actually form images!

ocean pop pull cover2

Written by Michelle McKenzie, illustrated by Andrea Tachiera, Published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Press, 2001.

Award-Children’s Literature 2002 CHOICE LIST AWARD

Written for toddlers and created to enhance the visitor experience in the Splash Zone exhibit.

Moray, oh moray,

Do you stay in that cave?

I come out at night;

I’m really quite brave.

Where do you live

Giant clam, giant clam?

Among the green corals;

That’s where I am

Penguin, oh penguin,

Where do you stay?

Far out at sea

I live sleep and play.

Hermit crab, hermit crab,

Why do you roam?

I look for food and a new

Roomy home.

Sea dragon, sea dragon,

Where is your home?

Among the seaweed

Within the sea foam.

Oh shark, dear shark,

Do you live where you fish?

I most certainly do,

And I eat what I wish!


Written by Michelle McKenzie

Illustrated by Andrea Tacheira

Published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Press, 2000

The penguin chick

At first an egg,

Comes forth to

Mom and Dad to beg

For squid and fish

And such delights,

As they can find

In deep dive flights.

The penguin chick has wings so small

That he will never fly at all.

But penguin’s wings will help him swim,

Explore the sea, and all within.

To keep his feathers

Clean and neat,

He knows to preen

From head to feet.

And always when

His face looks flush

He’s just too warm,

It’s just a blush!

The penguin chick at first an egg

Is three months old, no need to beg!

And now he’ll dive, and swim the foam

To catch his food. The sea’s his home.


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