A manatee and his friends swim across the Gulf Stream and brave a hurricane on their way to the Bahamas in this colorful adventure for young readers.
In his second engaging children’s picture book, Thayer (Kobee Manatee: Heading Home to Florida, 2013) expertly weaves in true-life weather facts with a simple but eventful tale. A resourceful manatee named Kobee sets out on a 300-mile swim from Key West, Florida, to Nassau with his friends, a hermit crab named Pablo and a purple, pink-maned sea horse called Tess. There, Kobee plans to surprise his sister, Kim, on her birthday. But before the travelers reach the festive celebration, amid the multicolored coral reefs of the Bahamas’ warm waters, they face some suspenseful challenges. First, there’s a scary waterspout and a thunderstorm at sea: “Two lightning bolts shot right past us. The sky rumbled and roared.” A spinning hurricane follows: “The east winds swirled….I went for air just as a GIANT wave spun us around like a washing machine.” Throughout the adventure, Kobee is both a navigator and educator; additional facts and figures, boxed and labeled “Kobee’s Fun Facts,” supplement the manatee’s explanations of the weather phenomena that the trio encounter. The book also tells its young audience, in text that doesn’t talk down to them, how to protect themselves in a thunderstorm, how storms rotate depending on the hemisphere they occupy, and how to identify different types of clouds: “white, wispy” cirrus, “creamy cotton” cumulus, and cirrocumulus resembling “fish scales.” Readers also learn of the two types of waterspouts (tornadic and fair weather), why the sky is blue, the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius, and that “a raindrop falls at an average speed of 17 miles per hour.” Despite the book’s encyclopedic quality, however, it’s a charming, simple story. The illustrations, rendered in colorful acrylic on illustration board, harmonize nicely with the active text, mixing real-world and fantasy elements in lavish sky and ocean settings.
An appealing picture book distinguished by its colorful images, creatively distilled meteorological facts, and simple but dynamic storytelling.