Sophia knows all the sea’s secrets (its “dragons,” “floating forests,” “clowns,” “angels,” and “four-eyed butterflies”), and she invites readers to follow her deep underwater to discover what lies full fathom five.
Kaleidoscopic illustrations teem with cerulean colors, shifting shapes, and swirling patterns, evoking oceanic fantasies filled with mysterious sea creatures, treasure, magic, and transformations. Sophia’s ebony hair drifts with the current, her porcelain skin glows, and her calm voice coaxes readers down, down, down, where “tentacles, / antennae and teeth disappear into / darknesss…and an abyss becomes / a bottomless pit of possibilities….” Readers feel woozily enchanted by this little snow-white siren and the myriad underwater miracles as they descend. Shafts of white space, often highlighting the narrative verse, administer welcome breaths of air amid a density of fish and flotsam. Luxbacher’s graphite, watercolor, and acrylic illustrations (composed digitally, printed using archival inks and papers, then enhanced with soft-colored pencil and found collage materials) offer opportunity for interpretation and pleasurable scrutiny. Why and how is a little bird trailing Sophia all the way to the ocean’s floor? Who is Sophia’s reassuring mermaid twin? Readers ride waves of wonder all the way back to dry land, where they find Sophia snuggled in bed with her mother.
Masterful artwork and nuanced verse invite readers to hold their breath and dive deep. (Picture book. 6-10)