A sea turtle and a cloud make friends in a picture book that aims to raise awareness about endangered species.
Bill, a hawksbill sea turtle, and Billy Jean, a mass of bubbly water, are best pals in the ocean around the Cape of Good Hope. One hot day, Billy Jean becomes a cloud, carried by the wind to skies over Africa and then China, where she notices that black rhinoceros and Yangtze finless porpoises are few in number. Back in the ocean, she travels with Bill from his South China Sea nesting grounds near Malaysia; she later finds more animals in trouble elsewhere: Sumatran elephants, orangutans, and tigers; the vaquita porpoise near California. Rejoining Bill, she learns that his species, too, is endangered. Debut author Paul, a retired scientist, straightforwardly encourages young children to feel compassion—a connection with the wider world and other beings. The story assures them that humans can make a difference by helping to find more “friends” for these “lonely animal pals.” The book’s downside is the inexpert artwork by the author and debut illustrator Dey—an uneven mix of attractive color washes and awkwardly drawn wildlife. Two pages of real-world animal photos are more useful, featuring names that correspond to the book’s characters.
Unpolished illustrations, but an offbeat and empowering message for young children.