Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea

Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea

by Chris Butterworth, John Lawrence

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Discover the secrets of the endangered sea horse - one of nature's most mysterious fish - through Chris Butterworth's clear, engaging text and the intricate engravings of award-winning illustrator John Lawrence.

Dive into the warm ocean and swim around amid the coral and waving sea grass. Do you see an eye like a small black bead peering out at you? Linger


Discover the secrets of the endangered sea horse - one of nature's most mysterious fish - through Chris Butterworth's clear, engaging text and the intricate engravings of award-winning illustrator John Lawrence.

Dive into the warm ocean and swim around amid the coral and waving sea grass. Do you see an eye like a small black bead peering out at you? Linger for a while and discover the secrets of the sea horse - one of the shyest fish in the sea. With a head like a horse, a tail like a monkey, and a pouch like a kangaroo, the sea horse acts like a chameleon, changing color to ward off danger or to show that he and his mate are a lifelong pair. Watch their fascinating mating dance, as the two of them twine their tails together and twirl, before she places her eggs in his pouch to be born. Could there be a more intriguing creature of the sea?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With Lawrence's (This Little Chick) signature mixed-media artwork and an oblong trim size, this book aptly mirrors the distinctive sea creature at its center. Butterworth's conversational, often lyrical prose demystifies the timid Barbour's sea horse: "He can only swim slowly,/ so if a hungry snapper cruises by,/ looking for a snack,/ Sea Horse does something very clever:/ he holds still and changes color/ (now you see him...)/ until he's almost invisible/ (now you don't!)." Three panels depict his transformation, while text set in smaller type offers additional details (e.g., "The way sea horses change the color of their skin to blend in with their surroundings is called camouflage"). A few weeks after an intriguing mating dance, it's the male who "works hard all day/ and through the night,/ .../ shooting hundreds/ of babies out of his pouch." The rest of the book focuses on a female: "This new sea horse is only/ as long as your eyelash,/ but she can find/ her own food right away." Lawrence's vinyl engravings, backed by a pale sea-foam green watercolor wash, please the eye with a subtle palette of earth-tone browns and coral reds plus beautifully etched ocean flora and fauna. The layout can sometimes feel a bit busy, with several rectangular prints alongside text in two typefaces. But the pages brim with information. This compact book is sure to fascinate. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Basic facts and fascinating information about "the shyest fish" is presented clearly and succinctly. Additional facts are added in smaller type on each double-page spread and at the end. After describing the swimming and mating of the seahorse, Butterworth details how the father seahorse settles the eggs in his pouch to grow and then gives birth. The babies go off on their own to grow, find a home, and eventually mate, too. The endpapers, with their delineation of twelve species of seahorses and a variety of sea plants, introduce the stars of the story to follow. Lawrence deftly combines vinyl engravings and printed wood textures with watercolor washes to create the underwater habitat of this amazing creature. Anatomical facts are carefully detailed. Fish, plants, and corals cohabit in the world of the blue-green pages, while the blue words of the text fit comfortably within. The scientific and the esthetic combine here for a book that rises far above the usual. 2006, Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-In addition to learning about sea horses, children will be enticed by the fabulous ocean depths captured in Lawrence's prints. The artist used wood textures to create watery backgrounds for the vinyl engravings of sea plants and animals. Watercolor washes in muted tones of green, blue, and red complete the look. Text that occasionally follows the wavy pattern of an ocean current provides brief but specific descriptions of the small creatures. Additional captions provide tactile depictions: "-he has tiny prickles down his back, like a dragon." The narrative focuses on the Barbour's breed with a dozen other types of sea horses illustrated on the endpapers. Facts such as how they move, reproduce, and eat are revealed with concrete details such as "[Each] new sea horse is only as long as your eyelash." Images illustrate such concepts as camouflage and the creatures' prehensile tail. Thoroughly engaging, this is a brilliant marriage of art and science.-Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library CASTALDO, Nancy F. River Wild: An Activity Guide to North American Rivers. illus. by B. Kulak. 147p. charts. diags. maps. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Chicago Review. 2006. pap. $14.95. ISBN 1-55652-585-0. LC 2005022976. Gr 3-5-Combining information about the rivers of the United States, Canada, and Mexico with activities, this book tries hard to remain upbeat in spite of the devastating facts regarding river health. Pollution, environmental degradation, species extinction, and toxic discharges are just some of the ecological problems discussed. A few positive movements are pointed out, and river keepers of some major waterways are profiled. Some of the activities, such as panning for gold or searching for fossils, may be out of reach for most children, although the conservation suggestions and Web sites are helpful.-Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Superimposing vinyl-cut figures over wood-grain patterns and using a palette of greens and muted, orangey reds, Lawrence creates a private watery world through which small seahorses glide inconspicuously. Subtly changing colors to camouflage themselves, these "horselike [sic] sea monsters" (as their scientific name, "hippocampus," translates) lurk within coral formations and waving tufts of seaweed, performing a delicate mating dance before the female lays eggs in the male's pouch and, some time later, a new generation swirls away. Presenting basic information on two levels marked by changing type sizes, Butterworth focuses on the living part of the sea horse's life cycle, mentioning predators only in passing. Though the author sticks with a single species, Barbour's sea horses, Lawrence depicts 11 others (some of which are endangered or threatened) in the endpapers. An absorbing look at these unusual fish, though assignment-driven readers may prefer one of the introductions illustrated with photos, such as Twig C. George's Seahorses (2003). (closing note, rudimentary index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.14(w) x 7.77(h) x 0.25(d)
AD930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

CHRIS BUTTERWORTH is the author of more than seventy nonfiction books for children on such diverse subjects as influenza, Antarctic exploration, and Ancient Egypt. "A sea horse looks as magical as a mermaid," she says, "but sea horses really exist. We need to know as much as we can about them, so we can protect them."

JOHN LAWRENCE says, "Sea horses are really exciting to draw, and I have tried to imagine how it must be to live under the water like them." John Lawrence is both the author and illustrator of THIS LITTLE CHICK, named a NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Best Illustrated Children's Book of the year.

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