Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Sea Horse: The Shyest Fish in the Sea Book Poster Image
Kids will dive into this secret undersea world.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's nothing of concern in any of the fascinating facts presented in this nonfiction book. They will be as captivated and amazed as their kids will be.

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What's the story?

From start to finish, text and illustrations work together to present the amazing world of Barbouri's sea horse. On the first pages, readers must search among the sea-grass meadow to find the shy little sea horse. From then on, page after page take us deeper into the ocean world to explain what this fish looks like, how it moves, camouflages itself, reproduces, and where it lives.

Is it any good?

Together, the book's blue printed text and sensitive illustrations will pull any reader into the amazing world of what looks like a part-horse, part-dragon creature. Different print sizes play together to unfold the intricate life story of the Barbour's sea horse, a tale that's factual and intriguing. Illustrations that almost seem too muted add to the undersea reality. Vinyl engravings, watercolor washes, and printed wood textures done in brownish tones of blue, green, and orange were created by John Lawrence, who also illustrated This Little Chick, one New York Times' Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year.

Unusual in a children's book, pages here are numbered, and the text is followed by a short index to help the reader find out about specific "sea horse things" that may be of particular interest. And, though this book by Chris Butterworth focuses on just one type of sea horse, drawings on the inside covers picture and identify 10 other leading species. This is a wonderful example of a nonfiction story told in an entertaining and artistic way, and for preschoolers and kindergartners it's a perfect introduction to research reading.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the sea horse is called the "shyest fish in the sea," and how it moves, eats, and reproduces, all of which is introduced in the book. Why do you think we rarely see this tiny fish except in a special exhibit, especially when so many are born each month?

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