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SEA HORSE by Chris Butterworth


The Shyest Fish in the Sea

by Chris Butterworth & illustrated by John Lawrence

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7636-2989-8
Publisher: Candlewick

Superimposing vinyl-cut figures over wood-grain patterns and using a palette of greens and muted, orangey reds, Lawrence creates a private watery world through which small seahorses glide inconspicuously. Subtly changing colors to camouflage themselves, these “horselike [sic] sea monsters” (as their scientific name, “hippocampus,” translates) lurk within coral formations and waving tufts of seaweed, performing a delicate mating dance before the female lays eggs in the male’s pouch and, some time later, a new generation swirls away. Presenting basic information on two levels marked by changing type sizes, Butterworth focuses on the living part of the sea horse’s life cycle, mentioning predators only in passing. Though the author sticks with a single species, Barbour’s sea horses, Lawrence depicts 11 others (some of which are endangered or threatened) in the endpapers. An absorbing look at these unusual fish, though assignment-driven readers may prefer one of the introductions illustrated with photos, such as Twig C. George’s Seahorses (2003). (closing note, rudimentary index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)