Where the Weird Things Are: An Ocean Twilight Zone Adventure

Earth Aware Editions. Mar. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781647225889.
Gr 1-4–This title explores the creatures that live in the twilight zone level of the ocean. Readers follow an anthropomorphic underwater robot as it tries to figure out what it is by asking questions of and comparing itself to the sea creatures it encounters. From the atolla jellyfish and swordfish to the salps, anglerfish, and more, the little robot learns much about these creatures and why it isn’t one of them. “There seems to be something special about everyone here...except for me,” it laments, and adds, “Great. I’m too weird even for a siphonophore.” Luckily the anglerfish shows up with this wisdom: “Down here, everyone is different, but everyone belongs. We’re all a little weird.” Just then the little robot ascends to the deck of a ship and discovers what it is: the cartoon version of the real Mesobot used by the Woods Hole Institute for Oceanographic Science. What it records is being used to educate children via Zoom. A lot of information is crammed into the text, which is effectively placed within and around the eye-catching illustrations. Hooning does adeptly gives the anthropomorphic creatures and robot personality while retaining their realism. The excellent back matter features details of the sea creatures from the story in photos and illustrations.
VERDICT Despite a slightly awkward conceit, this is a good introduction to the critters living in the ocean’s twilight zone. The illustrations are sure to keep readers turning the pages.

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