cover image My Visit to the Aquarium

My Visit to the Aquarium

Aliki. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021458-6

A-fish-ionados of big-city aquariums will recognize familiar watery environments within these splendidly illustrated pages. Based on several specific aquariums, Aliki's mega-museum features a three-story kelp jungle, a muggy tropical rain forest and a coral reef. More standard attractions include tide pools, freshwater tanks and, of course, the dark, glassed-in hall where sharks meet humans in eerie silence. The author/artist's characteristically skillful watercolors and varied compositions smoothly manage a flood of information. But, in contrast to the bountiful, unrestrained illustrations, the hardworking narration dulls colorful details. A few tidbits, however, successfully bait the hook: anchovies prefer to swim by the hundreds in a small round tank, ``packed in tight, moving in never-ending circles''; a diver feeds fish ``so they will not be tempted to eat each other.'' Some adult intervention may be necessary to extract the full value of the teeming text, but this book will enrich both the preparation for and memories of trips to an aquarium. An endnote stresses the need to preserve the environment. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)