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The Sign of the Seahorse


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About the Author

Graeme Base is one of the world's leading creators of picture books. His alphabet book Animalia, received international acclaim when it was first published in 1986, and has achieved classic status with worldwide sales approaching three million copies. It has now inspired an animated TV series. Other favourites by Graeme Base include The Eleventh Hour, My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch, The Sign of the Seahorse, The Discovery of Dragons, The Worst Band in the Universe,The Waterhole (and The Waterhole Board Book), Jungle Drums and Uno's Garden. In 2007 this last title featured in six major awards and was winner of three- Speech Pathology Book of the Year, younger readers; The Green Earth Book, USA; The Wilderness Society Environment Award. In 2003, his first novel for young readers, TruckDogs, was released. It was short-listed for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards the following year. In 2009 Graeme produced the the fascinating, beautiful and challenging book Enigma; can you crack the code? Graeme's most recent book is The Last King of Angkor Wat. Graeme lives in Melbourne with his artist wife, Robyn, and their three children - James, Kate and Will. Visit graemebase.com


Gr 4 Up-- As in Animalia (1987), Base will surely delight his many fans with this latest high-color, high-action, high-density composition. Instead of an Eleventh Hour (1990, both Abrams) mystery, Seahorse features high adventure, romance, and intrigue, redeemed by a high-minded ecological message. The theme is not as deep as the underwater setting--a coral reef poisoned by pollution--where the all-fish-and-crustacean cast pits a villain, Gropmund Grouper, (responsible for the toxic waste) against Pearl Trout; her brother Finn; and her true love, Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrab Army. Godfather-like Gropmund spawns a nefarious scheme to defraud the reef's inhabitants while destroying their environment, but he and his ``henchfish'' are finally routed by Pearl and Finn's steadfastness (aided by Combat Lobster 46903). Copious light-verse couplets and suitably melodramatic diction convey the fishy plot of this politically correct entertainment. ``Base-ic'' instinct will lure young readers through the bright pages, even if the subpoetic text proves a sinker for some. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle

As the curtain rises on this Gilbert and Sullivan-like coral reef tale, the beautiful Pearl Trout (``cheerful, quick and bright'') and dashing Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrabs (``a clipped mustache, two eyes, eight boots, one glove'') are falling in love. But the amorous pair must part, as Bert and the Crab Army leave Reeftown to investigate the source of the pollution that is poisoning the area. The problem lies with the nefarious real estate schemes of the Grouper and his henchfish; ultimately, justice is meted out and the lovers are happily reunited. In Base's exemplary verse, perfect scansion and witty rhymes (``the legal licensee'' paired with ``a dollar ninety-three'') blend to create a comic saga of Brobdingnagian proportions. Likewise, the dynamic, radiantly colored illustrations are jam-packed with droll underwater details--all that's missing in this merry marine metropolis is the Little Mermaid. Despite the book's evident craft, however, youngsters may have difficulty here: the tale is lengthy for a picture-book audience, and the artwork's largesse might prove overwhelming. The verse makes splendid read-aloud material, however; nightly recitations of the various scenes should keep both reader and audience immensely entertained. All ages. (Oct.)

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