cover image The Blobfish Book

The Blobfish Book

Jessica Olien. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-239415-6

Slotting somewhere between Mélanie Watt’s Chester books and Mystery Science Theater 3000, Olien’s spoof of dry, nonfictional picture books delivers big laughs, thanks to a pink blobfish eager for its moment in the spotlight. The book-within-a-book premise lets readers flip through a photographic title, The Deep Sea Book, about the denizens of the deepest parts of the ocean. But for a pink cartoon blobfish popping up among photos of viperfish, anglerfish, and other creatures, the pages suffer from a serious lack of attention to its own species. Worse, when the blobfish spread finally arrives, it’s a rude awakening: “The blobfish was once voted the world’s ugliest animal,” writes Olien, mimicking the straightforward tone of an informational children’s book. The blobfish erupts into tears, but its fellow deep-sea creatures come to the emotional rescue. “I know how you feel,” says the northern stoplight loosejaw, spiky teeth agape. “Everyone thinks I’m scary, but I’m really small and nice.” Blobfish’s antics and wildly vacillating emotions are what make the book so much fun, but the photographs of and information about ocean life gives it additional depth, so to speak. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (May)