Olsen and Perry (Sharky Marky and the Big Race, 2015) introduce the alphabet in the second installment of the Sharky Marky picture-book series.
This scavenger hunt begins with a red-yellow-green light launch that sends Sharky Marky and friends off to search the ocean for an alphabetical list of objects. Some of the objects are typically found under the sea, like barnacles and clams, which help educate young reader as to the secrets of the ocean. Other objects on the quest are typical landlubber items, like dice and tennis racquets. The narrative provides great examples of sharing by having many of the participants share their booty so that everyone can experience success. There’s one cheater, though, Octo Eddie, who neither shares nor plays fair. At the end, although Eddie has accumulated the most items, he isn’t allowed to win since he cheated, a valuable lesson that cheating to win rarely has a happy ending. Along the way, Marky also stops to help untangle Diego Dolphin from kite strings, a positive statement that Marky values friendship more than he wants to be first across the finish line. Illustrations are simple and basic, without any clutter, though some of the images are too simplistic, like the algae, which looks like a green color swatch instead of a plant. Some of the illustrations are charming, however, such as ones involving Bartholomew Beaver and his adorable buckteeth and undersea diving helmet. The story is told in rhyme, but much of the verse sounds awkward when read aloud. In addition, some of the rhymes feel random, as if they were used simply because they rhyme, not because they contribute to the story: for instance, the lobsters play tennis next to a car, so Marky can “snag a racket [sic] that sat in a jar.” The final section, in which readers can go over each participant’s list and see what they found, is a nice conclusion, particularly with the educational glossary that describes each item.
An undersea adventure that both wins and loses.