PARROTFISH AND SUNKEN SHIPS

EXPLORING A TROPICAL REEF

One of children’s literature’s most ardent guides takes readers on a beguiling tour of America’s only living coral reef, off the Florida Keys. Arnosky’s narrative is disarmingly personal, inviting his audience to join him and his wife on their boat as they explore. The narrative encompasses both the environmental microcosm of the reef and its denizens and the gentle adventure of exploration. Characteristically clear and bright illustrations receive extra glosses where necessary. Images of snappers and a grouper join those of parrotfish, readers are told, so they can see the differences in the fishes’ mouths. Political history joins natural history as the Crayfish motors over the wrecks of Spanish galleons, the illustrations imagining what they looked like before treasure-hunters found them. The chatty text includes tips on how to emulate the diving experience and the importance of books to amplify direct observation. The text is a little on the long side, but the engaging enthusiasm of the author, and the bright, sunny illustrations, will keep impatience at bay. When it comes to exploring the natural world, there’s no better companion than Arnosky. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-688-17123-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Collins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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