Partly concealed behind a layer of a removable black coating, nine nautical scenes can be fully revealed—or customized—with an enclosed wooden stylus.
Mirtalipova’s full-page reef and shore illustrations—luminous assemblages of graceful curls and folk-art–style patterns—are visible in outline. Prompted by instructions on each opposing page, viewers can use the pencil-sized stylus, which is pointed on one end and flat on the other, to reveal the figures in full by scraping off all of the opaque covering or to make their own patterns and compositions through selective rubbing. Along with the instructions, Wood and Jolley supply soothing descriptions and, in rhyme, enticing hints: “Comb the beach. Look far and wide. / To find a shell with a pearl inside….” Both here and in the similarly designed Hidden Forest, final notes invite children to think of the results as their own works of art. Once etched, the pictures can’t be restored to their original states and, as noted on the rear cover, the pointy stylus is a potential hazard for artistes under 3.
Still, with its companion, pretty gift items for budding Botticellis and preschool Picassos. (Novelty. 4-8)