cover image Breathe


Scott Magoon. S&S/Wiseman, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-1258-3

Magoon (The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot!) rejoices in the life of a young beluga whale, focusing on images of serenity and encouragement over educational aims or warnings of environmental danger. By alternating underwater scenes with commands to breathe, Magoon provides an immediate sense of how the pace and scale of a whale’s life differs from that of a human. “Breathe, little whale!” he begins, as the smiling beluga, seen next to its mother, lets out a puff of watery spray. Magoon’s digital illustrations add piquant touches of special-effects magic: trails of sparkly bubbles follow the diving whales in the icy-blue water, the depths of a vertical spread glow with a bioluminescent green, tendrils of sound curl out from the small whale to fill the ocean (“Listen to the sea. Sing”). Arctic animals and fish dot the landscape, and mother is always nearby: “Most of all, love... be loved.” It’s a pleasure simply to enjoy the beluga’s existence, though readers should readily recognize that Magoon’s directives to “make new friends” and “find another way up” apply to them, too. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Apr.)