Written and illustrated by Graeme Base. First edition, 1992. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York.
The Disappearance of the Seahorses
"Above the ragged reefs they soared, exquisite and serene
Through slanting shafts of sunlight, tiny jewels of blue and green,
Performing little pirouettes, then sailing side by side:
An everchanging ballet danced upon the turning tide."
A wonderful cast of sea creatures battles over the fate of Reeftown, a coral reef that's begun to die from a "slowly spreading blight". Gropmund Grouper, the bad guy, has taken advantage of a dozen barrels of toxic waste that were dumped nearby to poison the reef, unbeknownst to the reef's residents. As the reef begins to go dark, he moves on The Seahorse Cafe, owned by Mr. Trout and his daughter Pearl and son Finneus. His plan is to close down the Cafe to boost his dive bar next door. Meanwhile, Bert, a corporal in the Soldiercrabs, falls in love with Pearl. Alas, they must part, as Bert and the Soldiercrabs march off to save the Catfish Gang, captured by the Grouper and his thugs, the sharks Ted and Stan, and the Swordfish. All's well that ends when Bert clamps the spigot on the leaking barrel and Combat Lobster '903 breaks through the door.
The book is divided into two acts and features colorful and detailed illustrations of various sea creatures and their habitats. Praised for its witty rhymes, engaging plot, and artistry, the book also has an ecological message about the importance of protecting the environment from pollution and exploitation.
Graeme Base (1958 - ) is a British-Australian author and artist of children's picture books, best known for his second book Animalia (1986), which has sold over three million copies and inspired an animated TV series. His books are richly detailed and often contain hidden puzzles and messages. Other popular works include The Eleventh Hour (1989), The Discovery of Dragons (1996), and The Legend of the Golden Snail (2010).
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