Lift the flaps to help marine life parents find their babies.
For better or worse, there’s plenty going on in this board book. Each die-cut page grows progressively taller, with variously shaped waves, boats, and rocks jutting out of the top, creating a three-dimensional appearance. It’s a swell look, but those little edges sticking up bend and shred when handled, significantly shortening the book’s life span, especially when combined with the flimsy binding. Inside, readers lift (thankfully more robust) flaps to locate the baby animals. Rendered in an eye-catching but somewhat disquieting palette of blood-red, navy, teal, and pale chartreuse, the angular, heavily layered backgrounds with extensive shading capture a feeling of the water’s depth. The marine life is equally idiosyncratic, with evocatively stylized bodies that are more striking than traditionally adorable. Though the sea creatures have those friendly faces and wide eyes that so often denote picture-book cuteness, there are too many sharp angles and toothy mouths to see them as sweet, with the exception of a perfectly cradled baby otter. Conveyed in a perfunctory rhyme that starts on the page and finishes inside the flaps, the uninspired verse scans but reads aloud as choppily as the waves atop the pages. Companion title Farm offers a bit more adorableness but shares this title’s construction flaws.
The bookmaking quality underwhelms, but the compelling, vivid art makes this one untraditional excursion under the sea. (Board book. 1-3)