When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets some other underwater fathers caring for their babies: Mr. Tilapia, who carries his babies in his mouth; Mr. Kurtus, who keeps his on his head; and Mr. Catfish, who is baby-sitting his young hatchlings.
Eric Carle has done it again, with astonishingly beautiful collage illustrations and a story that introduces the very young to the wonders of aquatic life . . . and some very special daddies. A “hide and seek” feature with acetate overlays adds a colorful surprise.
Are you ready for a scintillating seahorse fact? The father seahorse is the one who carries the mother’s eggs around in his pouch before they hatch. In Mister Seahorse, master collage artist Eric Carle teaches preschoolers this lesson and introduces them to a few other fish who bear the traditionally maternal burden of caring for eggs: the stickleback, tilapia, Kurtus nurseryfish (known here as Mr. Kurtus), pipefish, and bullhead catfish. As ever, it’s Carle’s art that steals the show. Cut-up tissue paper soaks up the watery paint and makes for a boldly colorful, almost jewel-like undersea journey. The story? Well, repetition is the heart of instruction, after all.
Most of Carle’s books employ some sort of gizmo or gadget–and this one is no exception. Here, for a splendid lesson in camouflage, colorful acetate sheets mask marine life that is revealed as the child turns the page. Children may take comfort in the devotion of these undersea fathers…except perhaps at the very end when the father seahorse says to a freshly hatched sea-pony who wants back in the pouch: “I do love you, but now you are ready to be on your own.” (Preschool) –Karin Snelson