cover image Curious Clownfish

Curious Clownfish

Eric Maddern. Little Brown and Company, $14.95 (26pp) ISBN 978-0-316-48894-5

Like a picture book version of a PBS underwater documentary, this vibrant look at the denizens of the deep presents a myriad of unusual characters in their natural habitat. A newly born Clownfish spurns the protective environs of Anemone and, ``with a swish and a swirl, off she swam, looking for an adventure.'' Adventure is what this headstrong heroine finds, all right: many of the marine creatures she encounters are threatening in varying ways. Looking like a comically malevolent sun with ears, prickly Porcupine Fish puffs up into a huge defensive ball; Dragonfish extends her poisonous spines--and captures an unsuspecting little fish; and ``cranky old Crab'' scratches Clownfish on her chin. Kennaway's ( Hot Hippo ; Crafty Chameleon ) tropical palette and appealing--despite the danger--cast of oversized characters may remind youngsters of the vivid aquatic sequences in The Little Mermaid . While some readers may find parts of the book frightening, important lessons regarding natural laws of survival are presented in sprightly prose. And, as Clownfish discovers, home is always best. Ages 4-8. (May)