Friday, March 10, 2006

Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone

Secret Seahorse
by Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by Clare Beaton
Ages: 3-6
Topics: seahorses, ocean creatures

In this simple tale, an unseen narrator sees a "secret seahorse deep down in the sea." She tries to swim along with the seahorse as he swims past coral reefs and "flickering fishes", but he is too fast and disappears from sight. The narrator asks the octopuses "where he might have gone", passes by a mermaid and an ancient shipwreck. Finally, she finds herself outside the seahorse's secret cave and is welcomed in.

This sweet poem's regular rhythm and meter make this book a great choice read-aloud choice for preschoolers. The narrative lulls along like lapping waves, even the text is presented in gently waved format. Each line of this undersea journey has its own delightful and unique double-page illustration. The artwork here is truly impressive as the illustrations are "prepared in antique fabrics and felt with sequins, buttons, beads and assorted bric-a-brac." The illustrations are layered felt with neat blanket stitch edges, buttons and sequins become fish eyes and scales, and there are wonderful jelly fish made from lace and brocade. Beaton uses flower fabric and basic stitchery to great effect. The clever, old-fashioned artwork will delight both adults and children.

There's also a hide-and-seek game in this book - can you find the hidden secret seahorse in each spread?

The book ends with educational information on coral reefs and "seahorse secrets", and names and provides a brief description of each illustrated creature. A beautiful book.

Stella Blackstone has written many wonderful books for young children including the Bear series, the Cleo the Cat series, Island in the Sun and Zoe and her Zebra. Read my review of Blackstone's Bear in Sunshine.

Clare Beaton illustrated children's programs for the BBC for eight years and now has illustrated over 50 children's books.

Blackstone and Beaton have collaborated on several other books including I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur, Who Are you, Baby Kangaroo? and There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch.


Blogger Students For Literacy Ottawa said...

I love books that have to do with the ocean and underwater adventures. Thanks for posting the review.


11:46 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Louise,

Kids find the topic endlessly fascinating. This one is very clever.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Vegan Knitting said...

My favorite part is the back where it shows the "picture" of each animal and tells you about it.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

My 3 year old adores this book and can identify all the animals because of the nifty key at the end of the book. We found it at the library & now don't want to give it back -- but we will...on time. :o)

10:34 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Vicki,

We, too, love the library - they all know us there we're in so often (me especially!). I have the first hold on the new one by this team, I Dreamt I was a Dinosaur, which I'm betting is going to be a gem too!

7:36 PM  

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