Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, July 31, 2020

Secrets Disclosed

If you are fortunate to stand on the shore of a sea or of an ocean, the memory of being there for the first time will remain with you for the rest of your life.  A range of emotions washes over you.  You are amazed.  You are humbled.  You are intrigued.  In your mind, this boundless body of water before you generates a multitude of questions.  It has answers, some more easily found than others.

By careful observation certain discoveries are disclosed.  If you seek other answers, The Sea Knows (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, May 5, 2020) written by Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis with illustrations by Stephanie Laberis is a marvelous introductory volume revealing many mysteries.  It's like taking a tour beneath the blue-green expanse.

We are young.
The sea is old.

The sea has secrets
to unfold.

The sea knows.

The sea is home to the largest mammal on our planet.  It its depths reside some of the tiniest creatures.  The size of the plant life ranges in height.  The patterns on the fish are varied as is their texture.

In the sea there are creatures who are more powerful than others.  Some are clever enough to hide, but equally there are those who know how to find them.  Just like our night sky, the sea harbors stars, and glowing lights.

There is a range of color under the sea.  Their vibrancy calls our attention as does their contrasts.  One thing is constantly true.  No matter where you look or how deep you go, there are many hues of blue.

Some things float upon the sea and others plunge into its deep, dark places.  If you listen and look, the sea shares sensory sensations like splashing and bubbles.  During the sunniest of days or during storms, the sea shows us many sides.  It exhibits high winds and steep waves.  It is a majestic power which can just as quickly subside into serenity.  The sea does know.

Using the final word in a sentence or phrase as a rhyming connection, authors Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis invite readers to join them on a spectacular adventure.  Repetition of key words enhances the tempo.  Opposites inform and challenge readers to speculate.  Each window into this world encourages reflection, further research and welcomes visual interpretation.  Here is a passage.

The sea knows short.
The sea knows tall.

The sea knows spots,
the sea knows shiny.

The sea knows smooth,
the sea knows spiny.

When you open the matching dust jacket and book case, you are greeted with two lovely vivid visions of life beneath the waters of the sea.  On the front, right, light from the sun filters to creatures, coral, and plant life as a lone seagull glides above them.  To the left, on the back, a brilliant octopus lounges on a ledge as a sea turtle slides through the water overhead.  The shades of blue and green in both these illustrations display the many varied physical qualities of the sea.  The text and several of the larger fish on the front of the jacket are raised and varnished.

On the opening and closing endpapers, in reverse directions, a school of yellow longnose butterflyfish swim in turquoise waters.  A few fish and seaweed are placed on the verso page.  Another sea scene holds the text for the title page. 

Each page turn supplies readers with wondrous insights into the sea through the artwork of Stephanie Laberis.  Digitally rendered, each one, either a double-page picture, edge to edge, a full-page image, edge to edge, or a full-page visual with loose framing and elements breaking that framing, presents various perspectives.  At times we are close enough to the subjects to be among them.  At other times we are silent witnesses to enchanting seascapes.  The appealing and numerous details inspire further investigation.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a single-page picture for the words

the sea knows spiny.

Rich tones of blue surround the main being.  To the right and left are other animals and structures in contrasting colors.  Front and center is a puffer fish, blown up in defense.  Its spines stick out around its body.  It is looking wide-eyed at readers.

When through the text and images in a book you can travel flawlessly to a place you've never or rarely seen, it is something special.  The Sea Knows by Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis with illustrations by Stephanie Laberis is an attractive and informative title certain to engage readers.  Its rhythm is as varied as the sea, ever-changing and alluring.  At the close of the book, further facts about each specific quality are presented.  You will want to have this title in your professional and personal collections.

To discover more about author Alice B. McGinty and illustrator Stephanie Laberis, please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  At Alice B. McGinty's website there are two videos I know you will enjoy, including a read aloud of the book.  Alice B. McGinty has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Stephanie Laberis has accounts on Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images.  At PictureBookBuilders this book is discussed in a Q & A.  In this post mention is made of the authors' website titled News From The Happy Side.     At Kathleen Temean's Writing and Illustrating Stephanie Laberis is interviewed. 

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