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A TO SEA by Joshua Wilson


by Joshua Wilson ; Donna Wilson

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 2013
Publisher: Joshua Wilson

Lovely artwork is marred by awkward text and poor narration.

An ocean-themed abecedary catches attention with striking artwork. Digital illustrations are enhanced with textured paper, blended watercolors and cut-paper–collage effects. The palette ranges from vibrant tropical reefs to subtle, dark kelp forests. Unfortunately, the rhyming text is often awkward and does not always provide appropriate information about these animals. Moreover, rhythms jar with out-of-sync emphases. “A is for Anchovy. / A strange pizza topping, they’re salty and strong. // B is for Blue Whale: / the largest animal ever at 100 feet long.” The narration is clear and well-paced, but an echo-y affect impairs the quality. Limited animation effects add to the visual interest and work smoothly. Tap the ocean, and a school of anchovies swim onto the page from both directions. Interesting bite-size facts appear when readers tap the bottom of each page. While these facts help develop a clear understanding of the ocean animals, they struggle to counteract a primary text that muddies the water: “K is for Killer Whale. / He’s innocent. Please don’t put him in a cell.”

A picturesque tour of the ocean is sunk by uneven text. (iPad alphabet app. 4-8)