Turnbull’s debut plumbs the depths of a friendship between a confident Sea Tiger and a quiet merboy.
On the opening page, a stream of little fish swims into the wide maw of the Sea Tiger, standing on an ocean rock like the Lion King. Narrating this tale in a larger-than-life voice, its sentences command attention. “I am Oscar’s best friend. We do everything together. / Where I lead, Oscar follows.” The merboy, a diminutive creature with soft eyes, is entranced by his giant striped friend. The two begin a magical adventure through the shadowy seas. Swinging on a clamshell trapeze and riding a sea-horse carousel, anything is possible for these creatures. On page after page, the illustrations capture the essence of friendship. With a subtle palette of hazy greens and blues, Turnbull creates a haunting underworld of turtles, octopuses, jellyfish, and shells. The architectural use of black space shines a spotlight on the pair, with energy on some pages and quietness on others. Colored pencils capture the movement of the waters with the tiny, swaying tufts of the tiger’s pelt. With a twist near the end, readers are encouraged to consider love through separation.
A sweetly imaginative story about friendship whose message will linger. (Picture book. 3-7)