In a calm and color-shifting ocean, a whale becomes an artist.
At first, the sea looks almost empty, made of soft, horizontal stripes in greens and blues. A whale arrives, wearing a poster: “Call for entries! The hugest art show in the deep and briny. Curated by Mr. Jackson Pollock.” A wrasse creates living sculpture with coral; a shark drapes fishing floats over an anchor. Whale sulks (“I wish I could make something too, but I’m just in advertising”) until encouragement arrives from an unlikely source. Some plankton pipe up with support, undeterred by Whale’s biologically sensible threat—“go away before I eat you!” Grumpy Whale swims away, inadvertently lighting up the plankton, who are bioluminescent; they glow when his tail swishes them. Now Whale has a medium; what’s his subject? Bursting through the ocean’s surface for air, he observes something his friends only ever see “through a dulling veil of water”: the sky. His undersea plankton painting will be Starry Night (à la Van Gogh). Robinson’s placid watercolor ocean alters shade on every page and horizontal panel, employing myriad blues and greens; her sharp contrasts between light and dark are beautiful. Her pencil drawings are friendly, though the octopus and squid are somewhat stuffed animal–like.
At this art show in the deep, the deepest aspect is the conveyance of celestial views to an underwater audience. (Picture book. 3-7)