Book Cover

When Steve the fish swims up, all the other denizens of the sea dart off at top speed. How come?

“Finding love has been a challenge,” Steve admits, but otherwise he doesn’t mind that smaller fish, bigger fish, even jellyfish and octopuses—not to mention human swimmers—retreat in terror at the sight of him. Depicted as a relatively diminutive blue-and-white–striped fish with mild-mannered pop-eyes, Steve is (or at least pretends to be) mildly puzzled, as compared to pufferfish, viperfish, and other toothier, spikier, or rather ugly denizens of the deep (“let’s not forget the BLOBFISH”), he’s not really very scary looking. For readers who aren’t all that up on marine biology Brewis inserts big fins or elongated stretches of gray along the edges of her cartoon illustrations…culminating at last in Steve’s introduction of his best friend, George, a humongous, spread-filling, blue and gray shark who disingenuously chortles, “Hey, Steve, don’t scare the fishies!” A brief “True Part” follows, revealing that Steve is a pilot fish, expanding on the “mutualistic relationship” between pilot fish and sharks and explaining, probably gratuitously, that “pilot fish are not really scary at all.” The illustrations are unsurprisingly dominated by washes of blue, translucent layers of darker blue, yellow, green, and the occasional red delineating other ocean animals.

The joke’s delivery is a touch labored, but who would argue that there are benefits to having large, toothy friends on tap? (Picture book. 6-8)

This article originally appeared on Kirkus Reviews