Tropical Terry by Jarvis

cover image

Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406378627
(Ages: 3-6) Themes: Fish, Appearance. Coral Reef City is filled with some of the most colourful and fabulous fish of the ocean. A flurry of action words ("dashing, flashing, swirled") echo the movement of the sea seen in the illustrations, which feature minimal background detail comprised of white line drawings and speckled shades of matte blue, making the fish and colourful coral stand out. All of the pages are double page spreads to give the full panoramic experience of the sea. Poor Terry . . . in the midst of such a vibrant world he is plain blue and a very average fishy shape. He does have two great friends, Cilla the crab and Steve the sea snail, but as much as he loves playing with them (he is really good at hide-a-fish), he longs to be part of the tropical fish crew (they call him "Terry the DULL fish" and are definitely not interested in his silly games). After fancying himself up with colourful bits and bobs, Terry is finally able to join the popular gang, but when they run into a spot of bother, it's Terry's hiding skills that save the day. After this Terry realises that standing out isn't always great and starts to take pride in what makes him unique and special. The illustrations are beautiful but as a whole the book is let down a little by the text which lacks suspense and drama, especially when read aloud. In addition, while the story attempts to show that brains are superior to beauty it doesn't do this in a way that will be obvious to a very young audience.
Nicole Nelson