Though eager to help his friend Peter the Penguin, whose submarine has stalled, Ludwig is stymied by the fact that, being paper himself and having been raised in a “world of books,” all he knows of real water is from pictures of ponds and fish.
Following an accident with a glass of water, he’s left to dry flat between the pages of a collection of fairy tales, where he meets, along with some familiar characters (“Don’t eat Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. It won’t end well for you,” he solemnly informs a wolf), a fairy queen who grants his wish to make the ocean real in a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It’s off to the rescue—and to encounters, in a dazzling climactic double gatefold, with schools of swimming sausages and other nautical wonders. Even without the cardboard “sea goggles” Löhlein’s illustrations are lively and at least mostly sharp. With the 3-D enhancement, Ludwig and his animal friends (all of whom are portrayed as cutout figures) float convincingly among piles of closed and open volumes, dense swarms of fish and multitentacled creatures, droplets of water, and long trails of bubbles—so much so that for many viewers the actual surfaces of the pages will vanish. The white, blonde fairy queen is the only human figure in the pictures.
An exhilarating dive propelled by deft and clever use of its optical trick. (Novelty picture book. 6-9)