For the 16th entry in their About… wildlife series, the Sills look to the oceans.
In no readily discernible order, the illustrator depicts 18 marine mammals, from sea otters to blue whales—including polar bears and also a vanishingly rare porpoise called the vaquita—in neatly drawn and brushed watercolor portraits. Opposite each picture is an identifying label, along with a very simple line or two about characteristics common to most of these creatures: “All marine mammals must come to the surface of the water to breathe air.” The illustrations offer toned-down doses of naturalistic visual detail throughout, such as a porpoise giving birth and an orca chowing down on a shark; selective additions of other creatures provide a helpful sense of scale in several images. A closing gallery of thumbnail-size reproductions of the pictures provides amplifications of the narrative’s general statements (baby whales and dolphins compensate for their lack of lips by rolling their tongues into straws to suckle, a takeaway fact if ever there was one). The message that these animals and the oceans in or on which they live need conservation comes through clearly.
Dependable fare for budding naturalists. (bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-8)