Turns out that many sea creatures are as catty as the popular-student clique in every high school, but the oyster is much more than meets the eye.
“In the ocean on an oyster bed lived a lonely oyster,” writes Dunham. “His sea creature friends wanted to know / what he was doing all by himself down below,” a fair enough question, as an oyster bed should be fairly teeming with oysters. But these “friends” are not really curious anyway. They are more into being mean, expressing themselves in occasional couplets and sometimes straightforward cruelty. The angelfish: “You’re not as pretty as me.” And the jellyfish: “What can you do against others who prey?” The crab: “I use my claws to help me eat, / but you have neither arms nor feet.” A wise old sea turtle tells the others to back off, but Mr. Oyster is not defenseless. He has a refrain he pipes back to these bullies: “Don’t worry about me”—as if—“I’m making something BEAUTIFUL, you’ll see.” Well, of course the oyster is doing its nacreous thing to another one of his life’s little irritations, finally popping out a pearl that would have made Elizabeth Taylor swoon. Tuohy’s cartoons add little nuance to Dunham’s story.
An oyster bed with but one oyster—maybe it should be called an oyster cot—and “friends” that make the word enemy sound inviting? Go figure. (Picture book. 4-8)