I love when seemingly simple picture and board books offer the potential to teach a science lesson, open a world of understanding, or show us that we are not alone.
In her interview on Monday, Lisa Mantchev stated "in Narwhal, the main character might be someone who has mobility issues or suffers from agoraphobia. The books become what the reader needs them to be." To me this is the essence of literature and is not restricted to classics or novels. This book offers numerous ways for readers to connect with the story - such as friendship, disability, addressing fears, and perhaps pet care.
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2017)
Friendship, animals, narwhal, overcoming fears, and adventure.
Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):
In this charming companion to the award-winning picture book Strictly No Elephants, a tiny narwhal discovers that sometimes the difference between staying home and a big adventure is a group of loving friends.
Red front door. Potted plant. Umbrella stand. Piano. Red front door. Potted plant. Umbrella stand. Piano.
That’s what the world looks like from inside Tiny Narwhal’s fishbowl. It’s not very exciting. She dreams of the world beyond: endless blue sky, tall buildings, a bridge. But Tiny Narwhal hasn’t any feet and doesn’t know the street names. And what if it’s cold outside?
What this little narwhal does have, though, are good friends. With the help of her boy and his friends, plus a penguin, bat, and giraffe, Tiny Narwhal finally feels brave enough to go on an adventure.
Someday, Narwhal features the same adorable cast of pets and sweet, lyrical language as Lisa Mantchev’s beloved Strictly No Elephants.
The world doesn't look very exciting from inside a fishbowl.
Red front door.
Why I like this book:
In a gentle text, filled with friendship and wonder, Lisa Mantchev invites the reader into a narwhal's confined fishbowl world. Where numerous obstacles (an inability to walk or read and fear of cold temperatures) to her dream to travel and explore, keep her confined and sad.
Hyewon Yum's soft colored pencil illustrations beautifully capture the narwhal's perspective.
When three friends and their animals respond to her boy's call for help, Yum's illustrations sweetly reveal their concern and enthusiasm to help narwhal. After each animal counters one of her fears, they set off together on an adventure.
In a visual nod to the opening refrain, Yum ingeniously includes a red door, potted plant, umbrella stand, and piano in their adventure. Mantchev has created a tender story of bravery, friendship, cooperation, and perspective. Though we don't always get what we want, hopefully we get what we need. Even though the Narwhal can't see the world, she and her friends find a way to bring some of it to her.
- Narwhal coloring pages and activities (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/282108364137526208/?lp=true);
- if you own a fish (or other pet), can you find ways to make their space more interesting:
- help a friend do something they are nervous about or may be hard for them; or
- collect post cards from places you go or exchange post cards with a pen pal.
This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.