Under the Sea 1,2,3 / Jelly-Boy

These are two picture books with an undersea setting: thanks to the publisher Walker Books for sending them for review

Under the Sea 1,2,3
Frané Lessac

Vibrant illustrations, a counting element, fun fascinating facts and an environmental message are combined in this picture book that takes readers beneath the ocean to meet some of the animal inhabitants living in and around the coral reef.

First we encounter one giant whale shark and discover that some of their kind can grow as long as a bus. Then, in a double spread each, come two dugongs, three playful clownfish … parrotfish (7) which young children will love to discover, use their sharp teeth to ‘crunch up coral’ and later ‘poop out the chomped-up coral as sand.’

After twelve tired seahorses, comes a final scene showing the reef along with a gentle message about their important role in keeping the sea and ultimately the planet, healthy. There’s also a visual summary of all the creatures we’ve met alongside the relevant numerals that may well send little ones back to the beginning to start over again.
A gentle way to learn some marine biology facts relating to habitat and habits of the creatures selected.

Jelly-Boy
Nicole Godwin and Christoper Nielsen

A highly important topical issue lies at the heart of this seemingly simple eco-themed love story.
Assuming that the object of her affections is another jellyfish, Nicole Godwin’s jelly-girl narrator – against the advice of other family members – falls in love with a plastic bag. ‘ “We’ve seen his type before.” “He’s highly dangerous.” ‘ they warn. Nonetheless, the attraction is so strong that she follows the object of her affections into wild and dangerous waters as little by little the dreadful realisation dawns …

You can almost feel the pull both of the narrator’s love and the ocean waters as the narrative moves across the spreads taking readers to the final farewell.

Mixed media illustrations and an unusual telling combine to deliver the crucial message about the pollution of our oceans and its devastating effects in a picture book that will make a different starting point for primary classroom discussions about, and more important action concerning, single use plastics and caring for the environment in general.

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