Monday, April 12, 2010

Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea

Visually stunning, educational, and even heartfelt! All words that describe this beautiful book, "Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea" by Chris Butterworth, Illustrated by John Lawrence.

I stepped into my local bookstore one day, picked it up, and couldn't put it down. The story is that captivating, and the artwork is an absolutely perfect marriage to it. It is that gorgeous, featuring linoleum or wood-cut illustrations so detailed and textured you could live in them, plus a velvety, luxe palette that is sophisticated and easy to digest at the same time.

The book is not told like a traditional story. There is no one particular character who you get to know and whose you follow through specific events. Rather, the book instead narrates the life cycle of the Sea Horse in "National Geographic"-style. What is surprising is how attached the reader can get to the little sea horse characters in the art work, despite this fact. This is a testament to the emotional strength of the art work.

The writing is superb. Educational yet not at all dry and boring, the writing sets the stage for the dramatic, mysterious life that a sea horse lives. The explanation of certain life events is dramatized, drawing in the reader to learn interesting facts about the sea horse in a more personal way.

The artwork is in linoleum or wood-cuts, I can't be sure which. But the palette is perfect to describe the underwater, hidden world of the sea horse and it also informs the overall mood of the book. The texture from the wood or lino cuts adds a lovely texture throughout the art that really helps lure you into this magical world. I can't say it enough, how fantastic this art work is.

>a few other illustrations by the illustrator John Lawrence
> other books by John Lawrence (bibliography)

The design of this book itself is also on a higher level, like the art and the writing. The design is gorgeous. Each spread is planned out with the text and art to take you deeper into the story and for aesthetic beauty and order.

This book is like a beautiful orchestra where every instrument is playing at the perfect pitch and every musician's part is played at the perfect time. It will certainly pique the interest of kids and adults interested in learning more about these fascinating creatures. And the artwork is just incredible. This is not only for wood or lino cut aficionados—this art simply INSPIRES, period. I have to go so far as to commend everyone involved in the making of this book. All of the elements add up to the perfect fit, and it is a book they should be very proud of. I'll come swim in this ocean any day!

> See "Sea Horse: the Shyest Fish in the Sea" on Amazon


Gina Perry said...

It looks beautiful - and how can we ignore such a glowing recommendation. I hope our library has it when we head there today!

Kathy Weller said...

thanks Gina I'm glad you are going to look for it. I bet you will enjoy the color palette a lot! :)

Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

wow, this book looks amazing! I'll be on the lookout for it on my next trip to the US. ;o)

Heather Powers said...

John Lawrence is one of my favorite illustrators. His work is completely amazing, thanks for sharing a great review.