October 20, 2017

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Mighty Moby by Barbara DaCosta | SLJ Review

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redstarDACOSTA, Barbara. Mighty Moby. illus. by Ed Young. 40p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316299367.

PreS-Gr 2 –The book jacket depicting Herman Melville’s infamous behemoth befits the epic adventure it heralds: blackness swallows the crimson light surrounding the whale, setting an ominous tone. In an author’s note, DaCosta writes that every word comes from Moby-Dick except one. The text is minimal but dramatic, with dialogue as well as faux ballad and sea shanty verses. The story opens with three small silhouettes dancing to the lines, “Three long years we’ve been at sea,/Homeward bound we want to be.” With the plot honed to its essence, the captain appears almost immediately, and the hunt ensues. Employing cut paper, photographs, string, and pastels, Young shifts between horizontal and vertical orientations; readers will turn the book accordingly. This adds energy to the already tumultuous collages created with strong diagonals, floating patterns, and contrasts in scale between humans and whale. While the captain’s hat does emerge from the depths without him, and the sailors are tossed into the waves, a deus ex machina moment in the narrative makes this title an appropriate bath time tale. VERDICT Capturing the spectacle of the original and adding hints of humor may make this the preferred version of the classic for all ages. A masterpiece of bookmaking.–Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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