A tiny narwhal dreams of seeing the world beyond her fishbowl.
The little white narwhal’s entire universe seems to be an endless circle: the red front door, potted plant, umbrella stand, piano, and back to the red front door. She wants to travel, but she is worried about obstacles. She can’t walk, is afraid of getting lost, and doesn’t want to get cold. The little white boy who lives outside the bowl sympathizes. His diverse group of friends and their accompanying animals—a penguin, a giraffe, and a bat—are eager to help. They come up with a plan to wheel her through the neighborhood in a little red wagon, and off they go. She is thrilled with everything she sees, especially travel posters that hint of an even wider world. Mantchev keeps the tone simple and innocent, filled with wonder. The friends, both human and animal, are kind and encouraging in words and deeds. Yum’s childlike, softly hued, colored-pencil–and-gouache drawings complement the sweetness of the tale, and her animals more closely resemble cuddly toys than their real-life counterparts. However it is the central premise of the narwhal in a fishbowl that is problematic. That very tiny, cute creature is so far from the reality (5 feet long and 200 pounds at birth, with grayish-brown coloring) as to severely compromise the suspension of disbelief.
The tender, kind friendship outweighs the flaws. (Picture book. 3-5)