cover image Little Fish Lost

Little Fish Lost

Nancy Van Laan. Atheneum Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81331-3

When an orange and yellow polka-dotted fish gets separated from his mother, his search for her takes him on a tour of underwater flora and fauna. He spies fellow fish of every stripe, a scarlet crawfish whose claws go ""snappa-snappa,"" and other animal mothers and babies cavorting at the water's edge. Astute children will find that little fish's mother appears in each spread, conducting her own exhaustive and ultimately successful search. Van Laan's (Possum Come a Knockin') rhyming text, rendered in roller-coaster typography, leads the audience on the hunt with an infectious percussive beat: ""At the edge of the pond, tippa-taw, prowled Genet [a fox]. When she drank, lippa lap, Little Fish's tail went SLAP!"" Conteh-Morgan's (My Farm) childlike illustrations sizzle; with exuberant splashes of hot pastel paint on ripped paper, she's created a beguilingly exotic world. Yet in fashioning a territory, unfamiliar to young readers, for lost Little Fish's anxious search, author and artist make the reunion between parent and child all the more triumphant. Ages 2-7. (Apr.)