An informational picture book that solves a whodunit of the sea in lilting, rhyming text.
Petrie (The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab, 2011) wrote and illustrated this picture book about the feeding habits of sea creatures. A young girl clad in a wet suit, flippers, and a scuba mask finds an intact clamshell, missing its clam, with an unexplained hole drilled in it. She asks a nearby adult what might have created the hole, and when he panics, convinced it must be the work of a dangerous creature (“A shark, it’s a shark, / whose tooth bit right through it. / I knew when I saw it, / a shark’s tooth could do it!”), all of the children are ordered out of the ocean. It’s up to the youthful zoological detective to discover the perpetrator so that the revelers can return to the water. Based on her own knowledge of sharks, the girl rejects the adult’s hypothesis, and she questions a sea star, a sea gull, a lobster, and a moon snail. She is accompanied in her inquiries by three comic fish that make elaborative asides. The interrogated animals are clam predators, but they declare their innocence: “Not me, not me, / I guarantee. / I love to eat clams, / but it wasn’t me!” Each explains his or her modus operandi, which doesn’t match the evidence; the sea gull, for example, says, “I drop the clam hard / to shatter its shell. / Then I swoop down to eat / from the rock where it fell.” Cartoonish illustrations fit the whimsical tone and mood, and bright colors help solidify the seaside setting. Shifts in perspective demonstrate the scale of the animals in relation to each other and the girl and remain mostly consistent. An afterword includes additional information about each of the ocean animals featured.
An entertaining examination of oceanographic food webs, good for both everyday read-alouds and classroom instructional use.