The Sign of the Seahorse: A Tale of Greed and High Adventure in Two Acts

Overview

In which the villainous Gropmund Grouper devises a dastardly scheme to rob the innocent folk of Reeftown of their homes and money, but is foiled by the efforts of the intrepid Pearl Trout, her fiery brother, Finneus, and brave Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrab Army. Graeme Base, who created Abrams' best-selling Animalia and The Eleventh Hour, now offers The Sign of the Seahorse, a sweeping drama of intrigue and excitement set in the beautiful but fragile underwater world of a coral reef. Beginning at the famous ...
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Overview

In which the villainous Gropmund Grouper devises a dastardly scheme to rob the innocent folk of Reeftown of their homes and money, but is foiled by the efforts of the intrepid Pearl Trout, her fiery brother, Finneus, and brave Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrab Army. Graeme Base, who created Abrams' best-selling Animalia and The Eleventh Hour, now offers The Sign of the Seahorse, a sweeping drama of intrigue and excitement set in the beautiful but fragile underwater world of a coral reef. Beginning at the famous Seahorse Cafe, social hub of the Old Reef, The Sign of the Seahorse takes us on a great journey. We travel from the doomed coral gardens of Reeftown to a sunken wreck and an underwater junkyard, across the barren expanse of the Withered Plain, and into the vast, uncharted chasms of the Deep, before arriving finally at the utmost edge of the Great Continental Shelf. Readers of all ages will delight in the rhyming text and gloriously detailed illustrations of this undersea adventure. The wonderfully drawn characters will capture the imagination as The Sign of the Seahorse is enjoyed again and again.

The inhabitants of a coral reef are threatened when a shady real estate deal started by the greedy Groper floods their area with poisonous waste.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As the curtain rises on this Gilbert and Sullivan-like coral reef tale, the beautiful Pearl Trout ``cheerful, quick and bright'' and dashing Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrabs ``a clipped mustache, two eyes, eight boots, one glove'' are falling in love. But the amorous pair must part, as Bert and the Crab Army leave Reeftown to investigate the source of the pollution that is poisoning the area. The problem lies with the nefarious real estate schemes of the Grouper and his henchfish; ultimately, justice is meted out and the lovers are happily reunited. In Base's exemplary verse, perfect scansion and witty rhymes ``the legal licensee'' paired with ``a dollar ninety-three'' blend to create a comic saga of Brobdingnagian proportions. Likewise, the dynamic, radiantly colored illustrations are jam-packed with droll underwater details--all that's missing in this merry marine metropolis is the Little Mermaid. Despite the book's evident craft, however, youngsters may have difficulty here: the tale is lengthy for a picture-book audience, and the artwork's largesse might prove overwhelming. The verse makes splendid read-aloud material, however; nightly recitations of the various scenes should keep both reader and audience immensely entertained. All ages. Oct.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Perfect scansion and witty rhymes blend to create a comic saga of Brobdingnagian proportions. Likewise, the dynamic, radiantly colored illustrations are jam-packed with droll underwater details," said PW. Ages 6-up. June
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
This underwater tale of suspense and mystery incorporates a subtle message regarding ecology. The inhabitants of a coral reef are threatened when a shady real estate deal started by the Greedy Grouper floods their area with poisonous waste. Gorgeous illustrations throughout the pages accompany this high adventure under the sea.
Children's Literature - Barbara B. Disckind
Absolutely entertaining, with an environmental twist in its underwater setting of a coral reef, full of challenging words for young readers, and all done in rhyme so wonderful when read aloud. Base tells the story of a greedy Grouper who executes his plan to rob the inhabitants of Reeftown of their homes and money in a shady real estate deal. He is aided in this scheme by the leaking and deadly toxic waste littering the ocean floor. The story includes a cast of characters from goodies to baddies, from the adolescent Finneus Trout, a member of the Catfish Gang, to the bright and resilient Pearl Trout, to the notorious and evil Gropmund Grouper, and to the dashing and brave Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrab Army. The illustrations of this adventure are richly drawn and layered with characters, action, drama, and humor. Children will relate to the basic nature of these creatures, their outfits, and some aspects of their behavior. A keeper!
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-- As in Animalia 1987, Base will surely delight his many fans with this latest high-color, high-action, high-density composition. Instead of an Eleventh Hour 1990, both Abrams mystery, Seahorse features high adventure, romance, and intrigue, redeemed by a high-minded ecological message. The theme is not as deep as the underwater setting--a coral reef poisoned by pollution--where the all-fish-and-crustacean cast pits a villain, Gropmund Grouper, responsible for the toxic waste against Pearl Trout; her brother Finn; and her true love, Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrab Army. Godfather-like Gropmund spawns a nefarious scheme to defraud the reef's inhabitants while destroying their environment, but he and his ``henchfish'' are finally routed by Pearl and Finn's steadfastness aided by Combat Lobster 46903. Copious light-verse couplets and suitably melodramatic diction convey the fishy plot of this politically correct entertainment. ``Base-ic'' instinct will lure young readers through the bright pages, even if the subpoetic text proves a sinker for some. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle
Carolyn Phelan
Best known for his picture book "Animalia" 1987, Base now presents a melodrama set beneath the sea. The lively, detailed double-page spreads show an underwater world complete with a cafe, a bar, assorted good guys, superficially bad guys with hearts of gold, and some real nasties. When pollution begins to poison their reef, the good guys track it to its source and put an end to the evil deeds of the Grouper and his gang. Here's the poetically just ending: "And as for Gropmund Grouper, undisputed king of crime, / He groveled at the kitchen sink, his flippers in the grime. / Beneath a pile of filthy plates, at last he understood, / That Greed Brought only Ruin, and the Tide has Turned for Good." The colorful artwork provides a feast for the eyes, but the rhymed couplets go on and on and on. It's a difficult form of poetry to sustain at length without growing tiresome. Base's best lines, like those quoted, have a flair that does more than just advance the narrative. Still, his writing's not equal to his illustration, and although this is a visual treat, many kids will be ready to turn the page before they've heard the last word.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810981546
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Pages: 44
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.01 (w) x 12.33 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 1999

    Wonderful artwork, great story

    I read this book to my three daughters (ages 4,6, and 8) and they were captivated by it. Later, the oldest one read it to the younger two. We enjoyed the book very much. We are Graham Base fans in our family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2013

    This is the first book I bought of Graeme Base's. The artwork i

    This is the first book I bought of Graeme Base's. The artwork is absolutely incredible and the story is quite clever. I bought this book for myself, but when my granddaughter was around 3, I started reading it to her. She didn't understand the story, but she enjoyed the pictures. Since about age 5, she not ony loves the pictures, but she also loves the story. Early on, she looked at one of the lobsters in the background of one of the pictures and said it was an "Alcadyne" -- to this day she finds thata character and calls it an Alcadyne. I have read this book many times by myself and have studied the pictures in detail. I absolutely love this book and find it fascinating. Starting with this book, I now own seven of G.B.'s books and have three more on order.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 4, 2009

    Beautiful illustrations and good story

    Graeme Base should be a part of anyone's collection, especially if there are children in the family! The illustrations are absorbing and can be looked at for ages, and the story in this book is excellent. Perfet example of iambic pentameter for learning, and has a nice flow for speaking out loud to an audience of little ones.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2006

    Awesome!

    although the vocabulary may be slightly advanced for younger children, the stunning pictures and witty rhymes make it a fun read for all ages!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2000

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!

    I loved reading this book so much, that I bought a copy for my son's teacher, so she could read it to her students for years to come. The best way to read it is outloud while getting into character! The illustrations are beautiful and fun. There are two hermit crabs to look for in each scene, although I don't remember any special instructions clueing us in to do so.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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