Peek through fish-shaped holes to see ocean inhabitants.
In the latest in her series of titles using die cuts that began with Tree (2016), German artist Teckentrup explores a “secret world” underwater. Stylized images of tropical fish, grasses, sponges, and more are arrayed in colorful scenes. Peek-through holes reveal creatures yet to come. Hegarty’s text consists of rhyming couplets forced into an awkward narrative describing what’s depicted, starting with a coral reef’s inhabitants: small fish, sea horses, dolphins, a lionfish. Under the threat of a great white shark, a squid squirts ink, a puffer fish puffs up, and smaller fish scatter and swarm into a fish-shaped school. Then night falls, and “Jellyfish, eels, and manta rays / Dance and bob in bright displays.” Finally, the fish hear a humpback whale and encounter a manatee and her babies “in an ocean meadow.” Returning to the reef world, the writer encourages readers to protect the environment. While the images are intriguing to look at, the pages, though of heavy stock, are not likely to stand up to repeated peeks and pokes, and the depiction of the ocean world is more fancy than fact, conflating wildly different ocean niches and anthropomorphizing the fish who stop to listen to the whale’s song.
Lovely to browse through but not likely to linger in a child’s mind or last in circulation. (Picture book. 2-5)