The first spread shows a diverse group of children looking at and drawing shells at the beach. Each following spread shows a different function of seashells. A nautilus can "rise and sink like a submarine." Seashells and their occupants pry things open, dig, bury themselves, open and close. Each spread is accompanied by further information, but also by a comparative picture. For example, the chiton can roll its shell into a ball and it is shown with a drawing of an armadillo doing the same thing to protect itself. Mussels are shown opening and closing along with a blonde child with open mouth and a dark-haired and skinned child with tightly closed eyelids. Additional information is included in paragraphs on each page as well as in the back matter. There is a guide to different kinds of seashells (gastropods, bivalves, etc.), notes from the author and illustrator, sources, and suggestions for continuing to explore.
Brannen's pastel illustrations, showing the sandy beach and above and below the water, are studded with a fascinating variety of shells and their occupants. More pictures are included in photo-framed panels, giving the book a scrapbook effect. Most pages include some part of a child investigating, even if just their hand or foot, and a variety of skin colors and races are shown.
Verdict: This is a book with a wide variety of uses. The larger, bold text can be read aloud in storytime, the longer text can be discussed with a class or one-on-one. The book encourages readers to explore seashells and their habitats and there are many extension activities that could be tied into the book. Aside from that, it's a fun book with interesting pictures and a nice flow of text. Highly recommended.
ISBN: 9781580898102; Published April 2019 by Charlesbridge; Purchased for the library