Another creative blending of real-life oceanography and gentle fantasy in a smart and entertaining series.




In this latest installment of a science- and nature-based picture book series for young children, a curious manatee journeys with old and new aquatic friends to the site of a sunken ship.

Fresh from an eventful, hurricane-tossed swim from Key West, Florida, to the Bahamas, Kobee Manatee heads out for another undersea adventure in this third volume that continues the informative series by author Thayer (Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure, 2015, etc.) and illustrator Gallegos (Ernie’s Wish Tail, 2016, etc.). Accompanied by his pals Pablo, a hermit crab, and Tess, a sea horse, Kobee sets out for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in search of the wreckage of the SS Antonio López, a real-life, 19th-century ship sunk during the Spanish-American War. (Its description is one of “Kobee’s Fun Facts,” tidbits that are set apart from the story’s text and highlighted throughout the book’s colorful pages.) On the way to the ship, the band is joined by a lonely octopus named Ben. When Kobee is trapped by a beam while swimming through the wreck, Ben and new friends Alis, a playful goldentail moray eel, and Sandy, a nurse shark, try to help; the arrival of an old friend, Chester, a giant plankton-eating whale shark, saves the day. As with the first two books, the full-page images of ocean flora and fauna and the exaggerated features of Kobee and friends engage the eye in a rich palette of acrylic colors, and the “Fun Facts” scrolls offer depth without denying the young audience a lively story. Most of the well-conceived morsels of information here, again contributed by oceanographer and documentarian Fabien Cousteau, identify species of fish. They include some that children might recognize—lionfish, sawfish, parrot fish—and others likely to be new to them. Among the unfamiliar denizens of the deep: a damselfish, peppermint basslet, spotted eagle ray, and blue-striped grunts, which Tess describes as looking “like lemons with blue lines swimming.” A link to Cousteau’s Ocean Learning Center is included for any reader interested in further exploration. 

Another creative blending of real-life oceanography and gentle fantasy in a smart and entertaining series.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9971239-3-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thompson Mill Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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