Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Genre: nonfiction comic
What did you like about the book? Part of a six book set translated from the French, Little Tails : Under the Sea features a cute dog and squirrel pair exploring the oceans in a submarine. They have received a message in a bottle from a turtle stranded on an island and set out to rescue her. They move from temperate waters near their home to the Antarctic to a tropical coral reef, encountering a different sea creature on every page. Squizzo the squirrel instructs his puppy pal Chipper about the animals and habitats they are observing. They have exciting run-ins with scary creatures like a shark and an octopus, dive deep to avoid a storm at sea, have a useful chat with a polar bear, and play with dolphins before finding the turtle, which has been caught up in a fishing net and can’t swim. They help her get free, then return to their cozy home, and we see that their submarine is in fact a bath toy they have playing with in the tub.
Chipper and Squizzo resemble Patrick McDonnell drawings, and appear in monochromatic (green) comic book panels placed against full color, life-like illustrations of the sea creatures in their natural environment. The dialogue is cute – young readers will get a kick out of some of the silly humor, like when Chipper calls a killer whale a sea panda. Squizzo shares fun facts about the animals throughout the book, and there are three pages of further information in the back.
Anything you didn’t like about it? There is a map which shows their voyage across the Atlantic, from France to near Florida. The route seems to go North toward the Arctic Circle (where they could have met a polar bear), but a couple pages before the polar bear encounter, the explorers are watching penguins. Penguins live in the southern hemisphere and the route doesn’t indicate they ever went farther south than Cuba. Kids know these things.
To whom would you recommend this book? I can see this book and the others in the series being very popular with kindergarten and first grade animal fans. It’s a little like a Magic School Bus series for younger readers.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? early reader comic books/graphic novels
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Leigh King, Lincoln St. Elementary School, Northborough, Mass.
Date of review: 5/11/2020