Review of Field Trip to the Ocean Deep

Field Trip to the Ocean Deep
by John Hare; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Ferguson/Holiday    40 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-8234-4630-8    $17.99

Hare’s follow-up to Field Trip to the Moon (rev. 9/19) again features a compelling setting, a not-too-scary adventure, and immersive illustrations. This wordless story begins on the book’s wraparound cover, with a group of students heading to a bulbous deep-sea bus for a field trip to the ocean floor. Once anchored, the diving suit–clad students embark on a teacher-guided tour past bioluminescent squids, hydrothermal vents, and pillow lava; however, one student is more interested in taking photos than attending class. A dilapidated shipwreck and an ominously positioned treasure chest make for a great photo but result in the young photographer’s tumble to the bottom of a trench. A confluence of events quickly unfolds through a series of dramatically arranged panels and spreads, including the child being stranded, discovering the ruins of an ancient city, and encountering a giant pliosaur. (Viewers will recognize the prehistoric creature from earlier in the story, as it was skillfully hidden on nearly every previous page.) A potentially frightening scenario is tempered by the pliosaur’s endearing grin and desire for a photo shoot — leading to the inadvertent collapse of the ruins. The newfound friends quickly rebuild the ruins before the errant student and classmates reunite. The appealing acrylic illustrations are painterly and impressively atmospheric, and exhibit a strong command of spot lighting; fans of the previous field-trip story will be pleased to see allusions to it, including character cameos and a glimpse of the space bus.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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