A shark rhymes its perspective on the two human researchers who catch, tag, and release it from a “strange beast”—their boat.
“It stole me from the ocean, / and took me to the sky.” Hooked by a decoy fish, the shark avows, “I should warn you about the next page. / Because if you look, you might scream. // I saw the two scariest creatures I’ve ever seen.” Against a cloud-studded blue sky, Cortés depicts a black woman and a white man. After its release (alert readers might spy its post-encounter fin tag) the shark regales many, “from the whale / to anchovies,” all of whom scoff at its tale’s “complete impossibility.” Cortés’ premise has child appeal and even some STEM utility, and his lovely illustrations invite contemplation of the teeming worlds above and beneath the sea. The hip-hop–style rhymes yield a somewhat wobbly narrator, who conveys both an ignorance of humans and boats and a glib facility with “faces with beards,” “heads with two ears,” printed books, and the passage of two weeks’ time. The depictions of the curve of the Earth in space and of the sky—cloudy or starry, always vast—are lush, but their expansiveness seems aligned more with the artist’s expressive impulses than the shark’s-eye story arc.
Accept a slight current of illogic and enjoy this tale’s accomplished visuals and percussive rhymes. (Picture book. 4-7)