cover image Crookjaw


Caron Lee Cohen. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5300-5

Adventure and magic on the high seas are the hallmarks of this whale of a tale. In Cohen's (Where's the Fly?) version of New England lore, Ichabod Paddock uses ""his pappy's harpoon for a teething ring"" and snags his first killer whale on the day he was born. Not many creatures could elude the notorious seaman save for Crookjaw, a crooked-jawed whale who happens to have a witch in its belly. Once Ichabod is enchanted by the barracuda-eating card-playing witch, only his wise and brave wife Melinda can save him. Cohen's spunky telling is generously peppered with such colorful traditional expressions as ""Thar she blows!"" and ""Glory be!"" Children will relish the high energy here as well as the witch who plays Go Fish and wears red pointy shoes. In her picture book debut, Bronson's dark, swirling stylized images keep pace with the story's action. Her deep palette of sapphire blue, emerald green and ruby red and oil-on-board technique (at times reminiscent of work by both Stefano Vitale and Lisa Desimini). Bronson travels the spectrum from the claustrophobic gulley of the whale to a double-page spread of the harpooned Crookjaw with Ichabod and wife in tow as he leads them across the planet on a green sea. Young seafarers should be delighted to be tossed on ocean waves right along with Ichabod and Melinda. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)