Light washes of natural science flavor this hypersweet tale of a polka-dot cuttlefish and friends at play on a coral reef.
Cecil the cuttlefish, “wig-wagging past the sea anemones, over the tunicates,” meets his royal friend, Justin the sea horse, and other playmates at the Grand Palais de Coral. There, they “pal around among the gentry” and have a sleepover after enjoying “the best plankton shakes this side of the prime meridian!” Depicted Finding Nemo style in glowing colors with rounded, babyish bodies and anthropomorphic faces, the aquatic figures change color, throw sand, belch or giggle at a tap as they float through elaborately finished marine settings and palace chambers. Along with a spirited (optional) audio reading, tapping any word in the scrolling text produces a vocalization—though not a definition: Readers hazy on, for instance, the differences between “sea anemones” and “tunicates” will need to look elsewhere. Moreover the screen blacks out briefly (except for a seashell “loading” icon) between illustrations, and there is no index to allow selecting scenes or starting over.
Transitions aside, a smoothly designed diversion, with plenty of child appeal and definite vocabulary-building potential. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)