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The Strangest Thing in the Sea: And Other Curious Creatures of the Deep
by Rachel Poliquin (Author), Byron Eggenschwiler (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press, $17.99, 32pp
Published: October 2021

This is a large format illustrated book intended for children, but this (cough)-year-old grandmother of nine adored it.

It aims to introduce kids to a wild variety of sea creatures, all of which are real but still seem unlikely to exist in our world.

Each creature is introduced with an imaginative first-person depiction of its appearance, accompanied by an artistic interpretation and the question, “Am I the strangest thing in the sea?” Then, open the gatefold, and an illustration and full description of the actual creature in its habitat are revealed, along with the tantalizing answer that no, this is not the strangest thing in the sea.

That is, until the last creature, which is the strangest. But what could it be?

Rachel Poliquin has included a range of the very oddest sea creatures --- the yeti crab, goblin shark and vampire squid, to name a few --- and she provides unique, interesting and quirky information about each as well as their size, prey, habitat and depth. Award-winning illustrator Byron Eggenschwiler's beautiful art gives the entire book an otherworldly feel, as all the creatures seem to be fantastically imagined.

The question-and-answer approach and gatefolds in this innovative and engaging book of wonderfully weird sea creatures are sure to pique children's curiosity and encourage scientific inquiry.

The material aligns with an elementary life sciences curriculum: animal adaptations and characteristics, evolution, ecology, habitats, ecosystems, biodiversity and food webs. A final gatefold shows all the creatures together and the book includes a glossary.

I loved reading this book. It was so much fun seeing the first picture, then opening the gatefold to see the full creature description and artwork to bring it to life on the page. Many of these creatures look bizarre and made up, making it even more wonderful to learn of their real life existence.

Rachel Poliquin and Byron Eggenschwiler did a fantastic job creating this book and I highly recommend it from an educator, parent and grandparent standpoint. It's an interesting, educational and intriguing book to read, and I can't wait to share it with my grandkids. ~~ Dee Astell

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