Quote of the Month

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Do You See What I See In The Sea?

Of all the times, I have sailed on the ocean, motorboated on lakes and canoed on rivers, none have been sighted.  Walking on the sandy shores of oceans and lakes and along the muddy banks of rivers or streams and looking over the water, my gaze never rested on one.  Every morning as the lake comes into view, I hope.  Will something unexpected from the realm of fantasy or legend appear?

If something extraordinary did come into view, what would I do?  Monsters In The Briny (Sleeping Bear Press, April 15, 2022) written by Lynn Becker with illustrations by Scott Brundage supplies rhythmic answers to that question.  Readers will be toe-tapping, knee-slapping and dancing to the cadence created by rollicking rhymes and out-of-this-world colorful and highly animated images.

What do you do with a grumpy kraken?
Crabby, cranky, crusty kraken?
What do you do with a grumpy kraken?
Kraken in the briny. 

Three replies to these first three questions provide solutions.  You will need to have a keen sense of humor, be a master chef, and play a musical instrument well enough to teach it to a kraken.  Of course, the kraken still causes considerable trouble.

For those of you not familiar with a sea goat, it is part goat and part fish.  When it arrives, the crew on the ship decide to give this less-than-desirable creature a makeover.  It leaves but not before doing damage.

The ship and its sailors are visited individually by a serpent, a turtle (enormous), and a hydra.  Each of these monsters have their own set of problems.  One is feeling sickly, the other is deeply saddened, and the third is hungry, exceedingly hungry.

The clever crew knows exactly what to do.  At first, it seems as if the trio are satisfied, but then a frustrated sailor gives a shout.  Will the monsters, now numbering five, rectify their wrongs?

With the introduction of the kraken, author Lynn Becker reveals a repeating presentation.  She begins with three questions replete with alliteration, followed by three replies with the last words in each stanza rhyming, and concludes with three problems the ship still has.  These problems each end with rhyming words and begin with the words:

Yo! Ho!

The words

in the briny

tie all three sections together with their repetition.  Even if this sea shanty did not have a tune (it does), readers will certainly be unable to sit still after the first three sections.  Here is the third section for the kraken.

Yo! Ho! and ARRR!
We're flooding,
Yo! Ho! The deck is mudding,
Yo! Ho! Our anchor's thudding,

Kraken in the briny.

By opening the matching dust jacket and book case, you can see the extent of the featured monster, the kraken.  The water extends from the left to the right, back to the front.  There are two more arms visible on the left, eight in total.  Small schools of fish swim on both the front and the back.  The ISBN is placed on a broken piece of wood like the author and illustrator names.  The seventh arm, on the back, rises above the water in the upper, left-hand corner.  It holds a smiling sailor playing an accordion.  

The opening and closing endpapers are a crisp white.  Prior to the title page, we see sky and water and the tips of two tentacles coming from the depths.  A two-page image spans the verso and title pages.  Here the vessel is sailing through the waves on the right.  On the left, one tentacle is lifted above the water like a submarine periscope aimed at the ship.

Like the narrative, artist Scott Brundage has a measured depiction in his illustrations.  He has two single-page pictures followed by a double-page visual for each of the monsters.  After the dramatic exclamation by the sailor, the remainder of the illustrations are two-page images.

To heighten our involvement in this story, Scott Brundage alters his perspectives.  At times we are given a more panoramic view and then we are close to the action, as if we are one of the sailors.  During most of the book, the sailors maintain a happy disposition.  We know this through their smiles, dancing, and playing of musical instruments.  This is not to say, that sometimes chaos ensues.  Readers will love seeing all the different children portrayed.  All the moods of the sailors and the monsters are clearly known by their facial expressions, especially their eyes and mouths.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a single-page picture.  This is when the crew are tending the depressed turtle.  On the right side of the picture we see the turtle's neck and head filling nearly half the page.  There is a rain cloud over its head.  Several of the sailors are holding umbrellas to shelter the monster.  Another is leaning over the head cleaning her beak with a soapy, long-handled brush.  At the tip-top of the mast on the right, the accordion-playing sailor plays a tune.  (Readers will look for him in all the illustrations.)

Readers and listeners will be begging you to read Monsters In The Briny written by Lynn Becker with artwork by Scott Brundage repeatedly.  This is a read-aloud winner!  At the close of the book, there are A Few Words about Sea Shanties and five paragraphs of "truths" about the monsters along with artwork.  On the final page is sheet music and the words about the first monster.  I highly recommend this title for both your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Lynn Becker and Scott Brundage and their other work, please access their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Lynn Becker has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Scott Brundage has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  There is a Monsters In The Briny website which includes a karaoke link, activity sheets, and the book trailer.  Lynn Becker is interviewed about her work and this book at Maria Marshall's website.  Lynn Becker pens a guest post at Beth Anderson's site about her writing and this book.  This book and an interview with Lynn Becker are showcased on Kathleen Temean's site.  The cover reveal and interviews with both creators can be found at Celebrate Picture Books.

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