cover image The Invisible Whale (Crab and Snail #1)

The Invisible Whale (Crab and Snail #1)

Beth Ferry, illus. by Jared Chapman. HarperAlley, $12.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-06-296214-0

This inaugural title in a graphic novel series introduces two “best beach friends” who inhabit the surf zone—the definition of which is one of several bits of marine trivia worked into the story. When Crab and Salty Snail suddenly find themselves in a strange downpour (they’re the only ones getting wet), the Know-It-All gull reveals that the source is spray from an inexplicably invisible whale named Isabel, who wants to be their friend. (“I feel sparkly inside,” says Crab, when the group successfully connects via a Super Smile.) Chapman’s (Vegetables in Underwear) crisp, minimalist line art is well paced to amplify the comic timing of Ferry’s (Swashby and the Sea) dialogue, creating a character-based volume that reads like a cross between SpongeBob SquarePants and The Muppet Show: there’s a passel of adorably goofy marine characters, lots of snappy repartee, and even a wisecracking chorus in the form of two barnacle brothers. All the pieces are in place for a promising run. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 6–10. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Mar.)