cover image The Sea Tiger

The Sea Tiger

Victoria Turnbull. Candlewick/Templar, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7986-6

A hulking, pale brown tiger describes his underwater friendship with a mer-boy named Oscar in Turnbull’s gentle and emotionally perceptive debut. A slightly oversize format lets readers sink into Turnbull’s expansive colored-pencil scenes, which abound with aquatic life and imaginative details. “We have so much fun together,” says the tiger as he and the boy swing from trapezes in a circus taking place between the hinged valves of a giant clam. And in a scene as impossible as it is wondrous, the tiger clutches the tentacles of a cluster of jellyfish like balloon strings, as he and Oscar float to the surface. A page turn shows that these joyful moments belie a less lovely reality: “I am Oscar’s best friend. I am Oscar’s only friend.” But with the sea tiger’s help, Oscar is able to make a like-minded friend, one with her own unlikely companion. A chorus of singing sea turtles, octopuses transformed into underwater hot-air balloons, and other wild imaginings give Turnbull’s setting an enchanting magic as she quietly reveals the benefits of extending a hand, or paw, of friendship. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)