A shark and his goldfish pal look for a teddy bear that falls into the ocean in this picture book.
Sharkee, a sand tiger shark and mascot of Ripley’s Aquarium, sports a friendly grin and swims around with an unimpressed-looking goldfish companion. One day, they notice a teddy bear sinking into the ocean but then lose sight of it. “We decided to look for it,” says Sharkee, although the image depicts a surprised goldfish being grabbed abruptly by the fin and towed along. Sharkee asks several sea creatures about the teddy bear, but none have seen it—though sharp-eyed readers may notice the bear tucked under a baby octopus’s arm. Sharkee at last catches sight of the pair, and a hungry look on his face seems to bode ill—the usually expressionless goldfish becomes wide-eyed in alarm. But the final image shows Sharkee sweetly cuddling baby and bear. This book by the team of Bolin, Firpi, and Graziano (Bremner and the Party, 2018) provides minimal text that depends for its effectiveness on being paired with the full-page, colorful, and detailed illustrations. For example, a query to the blue lobster is reported as “He wasn’t very helpful” by the authors while the picture amusingly shows the understatement by depicting a grumpy, Snidely Whiplash–mustachioed crustacean pinching Sharkee’s nose. The contrast in the last pages between Sharkee’s fierce demeanor and his affectionate protectiveness is entirely wordless yet dramatic and nicely resolved.
Children should relate to the emotions surrounding a lost toy and the happiness of its recovery, even if not by the original owner.