Saturday, March 7, 2009

Book Review: The Sea Serpent and Me by Dashka Slater

Book: The Sea Serpent and Me
Author: Dashka Slater
Illustrator: Catia Chien
Published: 2008

One day, a little girl is taking a bath when a sea serpent slips out of the faucet and into her tub. She promises to take him home to the ocean, but it has to stop raining first. They make friends, the sea serpent telling her all the wonders of the sea. Every day, he grows bigger, until she can't even fit him in the tub, much less hold him in her hand. He has to go back to the sea--but how can she let him go?

The art is what first captured me about this book. Even though they don't make it to the beach until the last quarter of the book, every page evokes the sea with aquatic colors and beautiful sweeps of watercolor like waves. There are also smile-provoking details. For instance, the text describes "fish shaped like guitars." In the illustration, there are fish with long skinny necks and lines running down and floating off their back, like loose strings.

When I got into the book, however, the beauty of the language caught me just as much as the art. There is a bedtime story quality about the text that makes you want to read it aloud.

With picture books, the art and language have to match in tone, and this book succeeds in that so well that I had to double-check that the author and illustrator were in fact two different people. Try The Sea Serpent and Me for a beautiful picture book you won't soon forget.

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