August 11, 2021


Heads and Tails: Underwater by John Canty is a clever guessing game about some favorite ocean animals.

Explore ocean life as readers are posed questions about different ocean animals and Take in textual and visual clues on the recto page and then turn the page to find the answer on the next spread's verso page! Alongside little starfishy arms, readers are asked what underwater animal has five arms that can regrow and lives on the sea floor? They flip the page to find a starfish on the verso page with a new set of clues on the recto page (a whale's tale with questions about who is gentle, can sing, and is the biggest animal in the world). 

The illustrations are a mix of watercolor and adapted nineteenth-century artwork, and the combination of the two is flawless. The visual narrative starts on the endpapers, and each spread theoretically could be put together end-to-end to form one large illustration. Normally this format would lend itself well to a leporello, but Canty cleverly utilizes every page turn to maximize surprise -- not every page turn has the same rhythm, and just when the rhythm seems to have revealed itself Canty throws in a new surprise to subvert expectations and carry readers forward.

Heads and Tails: Underwater published from Candlewick Press earlier this month!

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