Tuesday, May 15

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean

by Kevin Sherry
Dial/Penguin 2007

Spoiler alert: Honestly, I feel it's a bit much to forewarn of a spoiler on a picture book, but when I picked this jolly little thing up I wasn't prepared for the twist and actually laughed. out. loud. If you would like a chance at the same ignore this review right now and go check it out for yourself. I'm not saying you will find it as funny as I did, only that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have laughed if I'd known where this story was headed. The spoiler comes after the illustration below.

Shall we proceed?

The giant blue Squid, presented in huge cartoon-y close-ups, very dramatically announces what we pretty much know: that s/he is big. Squid then goes about bragging about all the other creatures in the ocean that s/he is bigger than. Bigger than shrimp. Bigger than clams. Bigger than jellyfish and turtles. Bigger than this fish, and that fish and this and that fish.

At last, like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, Squid calls down the wrath of fate by announcing that s/he is the biggest thing in the ocean.

At which point Squid is swallowed by a whale.

Poor Squid. A quick inventory of the whale's belly shows Squid in good company, surrounded by all the other creatures of the sea. In the end Squid perks up and his last words are presented in a word balloon coming from the belly of the whale leaping from the water.

"I'm the biggest thing inside this whale!"

Any fan of Lane Smith's The Happy Hocky Family might recognize the optimism of Baby Hocky in Squid's final declaration. Or perhaps it's the brighter side of a superiority complex.

There's a note in the back where the artist claims to have sandwiched watercolor backgrounds, paper cut-outs and ink lined drawings between sheets of glass for the final effect, which seems like the hard way to do what a lot of Photoshop effects can accomplish. Then again, it does have a very organic feel and I wouldn't be surprised if that was Sherry's method, though I sincerely doubt his claim that the glass was pried from old pirate ships and the ink is 100% squid.

Sherry is something of a youngster. At 24 he's the youngest author signed to Dial with a three-book contract. I pulled this article while trying to find out more about him. He seems like one of those nice young talented kids who make things look effortless. I'm going to let my jealousy go with this one and just enjoy it.


Kelly said...

This book is AWESOME.

I've held out on reviewing, but will soon. Bold, iconic, and just damn funny.

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to get my hands on this one. I skimmed it in the bookstore the other day, and it reminded me of Scott Magoon's Ugly Fish. Have you seen that one?

Looking forward to reading it . . .

david elzey said...

Indeed, there's a bit of Ugly Fish in there, but there's just something about a squid...

Barb said...

I'm a kindergarten teacher and we just LOVE this book! I read it over and over again! Definitely a favorite. Now when I read it the kids always respond "no, you're not!" on every page! :)