cover image Agatha May and the Anglerfish

Agatha May and the Anglerfish

Nora Morrison and Jessie Ann Foley, illus. by Mika Song. Dial, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-32475-2

Agatha May, a uniform-wearing student shown with tan skin and black hair, is constantly at odds with her white-presenting teacher, who punctuates the introduction to a new assignment with reprimands directed in the child’s way: for chewing gum, having messy fingers, and eating in class. Students, portrayed with varying skin tones, can choose sea creatures for the assignment based on merit points, so Agatha May knows that someone else will probably grab the anglerfish first. Yet when her turn arrives, “something happened!/ something wondrous and strange!/ It was Agatha’s turn—/ and her fish was unclaimed!” She prepares with exceptional care, and her presentation on the creature, a predator that does not swim and uses a bioluminescent lure to draw its prey, brings down the house—and draws warm recognition from her teacher. Song (Mako and Tiger) captures the classroom’s energy with charged jet-black ink lines, gentle washes, and energetic crayon textures. Foley (Breda’s Island) and her sister Morrison, diver for an aquarium’s curation department, wield smartly scanning verse for this story of triumph about a kid who shines when she can work independently. Anglerfish facts conclude. Ages 5–8. (Dec.)