Shells come in so many beautiful patterns, shapes, and textures, but they can have surprising uses!
Crisp, meticulously accurate illustrations of shells pair with predictable rhyming couplets. Locating a perfect, unbroken shell is one of life’s small delights, and this board book shares that sense of wonder. Opening on a child with tousled black hair listening to a seashell, the narrative drifts through various elegant, ink-drawn shells, from the crowd-pleasing “pearl shell” (a mussel) or “round shell” (a sand dollar) to the lesser-known “winged shell” (a piddock) or “spotted shell” (a junonia), before closing with a different child gazing at a hermit crab claiming its own shell. All children pictured have pale skin. The rhyming text, which incorporates the word shell in each two-word couplet, rolls smoothly enough off the tongue, but some information is lacking. There’s no context to explain the “lei shell” necklace in the key labeling the shells, and why have northern cowrie shells been designated “play shell[s]”? That same feeling of vagueness brings down the illustrations. While the naturalistic hues are luminous against spare white backgrounds, the precisely drawn shells seem untethered from sand or seashore. Decoratively arranged sprigs of seaweed surrounding the shells are attractive but static, making the shells feel like an artfully curated museum exhibit. Matte pages are lovely to touch but will bend easily, and the edges are sharp, suiting them for older children. Beautiful illustrations lack spark but will still make readers long to beachcomb.
–Kirkus , 03/15/2021