I read Giant Squid by House of Hope favorite Candace Fleming over lunch last week to all of my children. To say that we were all mesmerized, from the forty-two year old down to the three year old, isn’t an exaggeration. The combination of the awesome and mysterious subject matter and Eric Rohmann’s amospheric illustrations makes an eye-pleasing and brain tickling feast for the imagination. (Rohmann is a favorite here, too.)
Readers and listeners are drawn in, even before the title page, with this statement:
in the depths
of the sunless sea,
in the cold,
This spine-tingling statement is in white font on a black page, and the formatting of the lines (which I can’t replicate) draws the eye downward to about three inches of tentacles. . . or something. . . peeking from off the edge of page. The rest of the book is just as poetically written, but don’t let the tone and the artistic presentation fool you: this book is chock-full of factual information, too. (As if one makes the other impossible!) We learn facts about the giant squid such as its huge, unblinking eye can detect the bioluminescent flickers of other animals and that the giant squid can and does change colors and patterns. The illustrations both enhance the text and help to move it along as we see parts of the squid until we get to the climactic double page fold-out. The amount of information is enough to perhaps satisfy younger listeners, while older listeners will appreciate the back matter of the book which includes a line drawing with parts of the squid’s anatomy identified and explained, as well as a page-long essay about the history of the squid and what scientists have learned about the squid most recently and how they’ve learned it. Following the essay are a bibliography, recommended titles, and internet links.
This book certainly captured our imagination. After reading it, we all piled on the loveseat with my laptop to watch some of the suggested links. By far the favorite link was to a six hour giant squid dissection from a university in Australia. We watched about thirty minutes of it before taking a break. As we were taking the break, Louise exclaimed gleefully, “Don’t close the window! Now I know what I’m doing this weekend!” Then on Sunday, Benny declared that my tassel necklace was a giant squid. Proof positive that everyone enjoyed and learned something from this book! If you have animal, and particularly sea animal, lovers in your home, this is a not-to-be-missed title! This book is filed under the science picture books tab on Candace Fleming’s website, so I hope this is an indication of things to come from this fabulous author. Highly Recommended. (Roaring Brook Press, 2016)
This book was shortlisted for the 2016 Cybils in the elementary nonfiction category.
Related links at Hope Is the Word: