Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure by Viviane Schwarz
|Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure by Viviane Schwarz and Joel Stewart|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Magda Healey|
|Summary: A surreal, fresh and visually anarchic underwater story with brilliant artwork, in particular the awesome Sea Monster, it also has a bouncy text with enough poetic features and humour to make even reading the speech bubbles easy; funny, surreal, and with a wee bit of a message too. Highly recommended from 2.5 years old onwards.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 40||Date: March 2007|
|Publisher: Walker Books Ltd|
Shark & Lobster are very scared of tigers. They are full of stripes and full of teeth, they glow in the dark, walk on their teeth and THEY EAT YOU UP! They have to build a fortress to defend themselves from tigers, and in the process enrol help of a lot of cuttlefish and spiky crabs too. Eventually, they decide to encircle the fortress with a Sea Monster...
As you can see, it's not exactly a conventional story, but all the better for it. Apart from excellent visual side, the surreal humour and the exciting adventure, Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure is also about fears, and how they get bigger and bigger and more irrational; and how in this fear we can surround ourselves with defences rather more dangerous to us than tigers in the ocean. There is also friendship there: Shark and Lobster are clearly differentiated characters, with Shark being the more timid and fearful one and the Lobster one to love the excitement and adventure. They remain friends, though, and together they are not afraid of anything.
The drawings are Schwartz's, coloured by Joel Stewart (who illustrated Jabberwocky among other things), and they are truly remarkable: imagine a cross between Maurice Sendak and Lewis Carroll, with a sprinkling of Max Ernst, add a lot of greeny blues and yellowy greens and you will get a vague idea. The Sea Monster is a particularly wonderful creation, both awesomely impressive and totally ridiculous, but the whole underwater world is evoked in a few strokes of caricature-like drawings, a few washed out splashes of colour, a mature and artistically coherent image which appeals to children's sense of humour, mystery and adventure (is there a merman on the way to the Deep Sea?) and doesn't patronise them at all. Oh, and the tyger, sorry, tiger is a thing from a different world altogether, a Victorian naturalist drawing, with each hair rendered perfectly: you could indeed, imagine it glowing in the dark.
The whole book has been designed and produced with care and consistency, and its surreal imagery, absurd humour and the fact that a lot of text is in speech bubbles makes it suitable for older as well as the very young children. Highly recommended from about 3 years old onwards. In fact, it's one of the picture books that you can imagine being received as tongue-in-cheek presents by adults too.
Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are is a classic of surreal imagery for small children, while a rather more friendly tiger features in The Tiger That Came To Tea. For underwater fun, take a look at The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster by Meomi.
We also reviewed The Magic Paintbrush, illustrated by Joel Stewart who coloured Schwartz's drawings.
You can read more book reviews or buy Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure by Viviane Schwarz at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure by Viviane Schwarz at Amazon.com.
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