Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
As the curtain rises on this Gilbert and Sullivan-like coral reef tale, the beautiful Pearl Trout (``cheerful, quick and bright'') and dashing Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrabs (``a clipped mustache, two eyes, eight boots, one glove'') are falling in love. But the amorous pair must part, as Bert and the Crab Army leave Reeftown to investigate the source of the pollution that is poisoning the area. The problem lies with the nefarious real estate schemes of the Grouper and his henchfish; ultimately, justice is meted out and the lovers are happily reunited. In Base's exemplary verse, perfect scansion and witty rhymes (``the legal licensee'' paired with ``a dollar ninety-three'') blend to create a comic saga of Brobdingnagian proportions. Likewise, the dynamic, radiantly colored illustrations are jam-packed with droll underwater details--all that's missing in this merry marine metropolis is the Little Mermaid. Despite the book's evident craft, however, youngsters may have difficulty here: the tale is lengthy for a picture-book audience, and the artwork's largesse might prove overwhelming. The verse makes splendid read-aloud material, however; nightly recitations of the various scenes should keep both reader and audience immensely entertained. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4 Up-- As in Animalia (1987), Base will surely delight his many fans with this latest high-color, high-action, high-density composition. Instead of an Eleventh Hour (1990, both Abrams) mystery, Seahorse features high adventure, romance, and intrigue, redeemed by a high-minded ecological message. The theme is not as deep as the underwater setting--a coral reef poisoned by pollution--where the all-fish-and-crustacean cast pits a villain, Gropmund Grouper, (responsible for the toxic waste) against Pearl Trout; her brother Finn; and her true love, Corporal Bert of the Soldiercrab Army. Godfather-like Gropmund spawns a nefarious scheme to defraud the reef's inhabitants while destroying their environment, but he and his ``henchfish'' are finally routed by Pearl and Finn's steadfastness (aided by Combat Lobster 46903). Copious light-verse couplets and suitably melodramatic diction convey the fishy plot of this politically correct entertainment. ``Base-ic'' instinct will lure young readers through the bright pages, even if the subpoetic text proves a sinker for some. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ages 6-8. Best known for his picture book Animalia (1987), Base now presents a melodrama set beneath the sea. The lively, detailed double-page spreads show an underwater world complete with a cafe, a bar, assorted good guys, superficially bad guys with hearts of gold, and some real nasties. When pollution begins to poison their reef, the good guys track it to its source and put an end to the evil deeds of the Grouper and his gang. Here's the poetically just ending: "And as for Gropmund Grouper, undisputed king of crime, / He groveled at the kitchen sink, his flippers in the grime. / Beneath a pile of filthy plates, at last he understood, / That Greed Brought only Ruin, and the Tide has Turned for Good." The colorful artwork provides a feast for the eyes, but the rhymed couplets go on and on and on. It's a difficult form of poetry to sustain at length without growing tiresome. Base's best lines, like those quoted, have a flair that does more than just advance the narrative. Still, his writing's not equal to his illustration, and although this is a visual treat, many kids will be ready to turn the page before they've heard the last word. ~--Carolyn Phelan
Horn Book Review
Pearl Trout, her brother, and her Soldiercrab boyfriend join forces against Gropmund G. Grouper when he cuts some shifty underwater real estate deals and pollutes the ocean. The pretentious, theatrical format is unnecessary; the couplet rhymes are occasionally forced; but the detailed color illustrations are delightful. From HORN BOOK 1992, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
The Australian creator of the best-selling Animalia (1987) concocts an underwater yarn in which the ugly Grouper and his henchmen, who have opened up some barrels of toxic waste on the ocean floor in a real-estate takeover attempt, are heroically outwitted by an intrepid band of soldier crabs in full regimental regalia, the amiable Pearl (waitress at the Seahorse Cafe), and the ``Catfish Gang,'' including Pearl's loutish brother Finneus (``really just your normal teenage Trout''). All of this is related in interminable, relentlessly rhythmic doggerel--peppered with clever turns of phrase, but not enough to spice this abundant fish stew. What will draw readers, and buyers, is the art: a fully imagined underwater world where a sea snail may carry a backpack complete with kettle and kitchen sink, the fishy heroine wears an apron and pearls, and each believably fishy face is also a witty human caricature. At least as imaginative as--and less earnest than--Gurney's Dinotopia (p. 921), and illustrated with greater skill; there's also the ecological message. (Picture book. 6+)