Two fun underwater picture books

Sometimes it's a nice change when the books you get in the mail, unasked for and unexpected, are picture books!  Especially when they are fun, and rather relatable, picture books such as one can happily write about.  Both are by Carrie Bolin and Jessica Firpi, illustrated by John Graziano, from Ripley Publishing (May 2018).

Bremner and the Party is the story of a puffer fish who becomes just a mess of nerves when he gets a party invitation.  All those horrible anxieties many of us feel are his--will he be too early? too late? will everyone else know each other?  and so forth.  But he has one anxiety that is more particular to him--will he puff up if  the stress gets to be too much?  He bravely goes to the party anyway, and sure enough, he puffs....but many other guests are puffer fish too, and they join him, and all is well!  Though most of us don't puff, we might well have other quirks that make us feel different and awkward, so it's a nice message that other people might be dealing with similar things, and you can be social and make new friends regardless!  A nice reminder for all shy readers that they probably aren't alone in feeling dread when facing the prospect of a party, and that quite possibly they will have a good time after all.

Sharkee and the Teddy Bear starts with a teddy bear falling into the ocean...Sharkee has never seen one before, but he wants it, and now it has sunk out of sight, so he drags his fishy friend by the fin to ask all sorts of other sea creatures if they have seen it.  A fairly standard, but gently humous, hunt ensues, leading to an ending of surprising sweetness when the bear is found, cradled in the many arms of a baby octopus.  Sharkee is tempted to be fierce, and take it by force, but instead he snuggles down and cuddles both the bear and the octopus....

In short, two pleasant and entertaining picture books!

(I was surprised they are from Ripley, but this mystery was solved when I cleverly read the jacket--the heroes of both books are mascots at Ripley's aquariums, the shark in the US and the puffer fish in Canada).

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