Review of Giant Squid

fleming_giant squidstar2 Giant Squid
by Candace Fleming; 
illus. by Eric Rohmann
Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp.
9/16    978-1-59643-599-5    $18.99

A mysterious giant squid lurks in the dark corners of the ocean depths. Page-turn by page-turn, parts of the squid are revealed: first, a few tentacles sweep across the blue/black-hued ocean environment; then, a few more emerge, and then again even more, along with fish who are about to be devoured. (And this is all before the title page.) Suddenly, the squid’s beak is front and center, and then a huge, staring eye. Just as suddenly, the squid disappears. Fleming’s cadenced text and Rohmann’s dramatic illustrations collaborate beautifully to build suspense and movement, as the squid and other sea creatures battle for survival. Important scientific information sneaks in effortlessly: even as readers look for the next appearance of the squid, they gain knowledge of the animal’s feeding, breeding, and movements as well as insights into the many questions about giant squids that are still unanswered. The artwork is marvelous; the murky blues and blacks of the ocean make it easy to appreciate how hard it has been for scientists and sailors to see the elusive squid — and how startling it must be when that enormous “ghostly, lidless” eye appears. In a spectacular reveal across a four-panel foldout, billowing clouds of squid ink clear away, and we finally see the entire, magnificent animal. Turn to the final pages, and once again “it’s gone.” A diagram of the squid’s anatomy, a bibliography, and an explanation of the ways scientists literally piece together information about squids from body parts that wash ashore follow the main text.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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