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A charming illustrated adventure under the sea.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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In this debut graphic novel for children, a young plesiosaur must undertake a dangerous quest for the sake of her secret homeland.

Deep beneath Loch Ness, a tunnel leads to a forgotten world: the Hidden Loch, “home to many aquatic creatures, several thought to be extinct or mythical.” Isolated from Earth’s other waters, the inhabitants rarely leave their idyllic realm, fearing the hostile humans, or “drywalkers.” The submerged society is led by the “paddle giants” (plesiosaurs); occasionally, the reigning matriarch will venture “into Loch Ness to gather important information about the outside world,” a process called “arcking.” Nessandra, granddaughter of the current matriarch, Granmama Saurus, can’t wait until it’s her turn to arck—but then tragedy strikes when a drywalker’s harpoon kills the beloved leader. Four years later, nervous about her first arck ceremony, Nessandra sneaks alone into Loch Ness, where a sinister submarine from the Institute of Cryptozoology snares her in a net. She’s shocked when a drywalker frees her, leaving loch elder Gran Beryx, who followed her, in the other humans’ clutches. In order to save Beryx and keep the Hidden Loch from discovery, Nessandra must embark on a perilous rescue mission. Luckily, she has company: her adopted mermaid sister, Allura; squid friend Krakey; and excitable electric eel Zapp. Can the four preserve their home? And are the drywalkers all evil? Maddux-White’s story may be a straightforward “journey to knowledge” tale, but it’s fast-paced and fun; yet the real star is the art. St. Aubin’s character design is delightful and expressive, full of undulating, floaty lines that reinforce the watery setting and sharp edges that bring the players into the foreground. The book’s panel layout varies from insets to two-page splashes but is always easy to follow. Garcia’s candy-colored palette echoes the brightness of a Saturday morning cartoon: vivid shades of blue and green infuse the underwater scenes with light and tranquility. The loch creatures sport many hues, including purple, yellow, turquoise, orange, brown, and black (although the drywalker cast is mostly white). A brief glossary at the end provides useful information about the real-life marine animals represented: some long extinct, others “living fossils” like the coelacanth and lungfish.

A charming illustrated adventure under the sea.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9991709-1-5

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Penny-Farthing Productions

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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