Mama Ocean (Jane Jolly, illus by Sally Heinrich, MidnightSun)
From Jane Jolly and Sally Heinrich, creators of One Step at a Time and Papa Sky, comes Mama Ocean, a picture book about the sparkling ruler of the seas, with tresses that trail and tumble through emerald tides. As Mama sickens, in order to restore her as jewel of the ocean once more, her children of the sea must realise the correlation between their ‘gifts’—found bobbing in the water—and her increasing suffocation. Jolly’s sweeping language is as poetic as the entrancing waves of Heinrich’s illustrations. The alliteration, descriptive terms and short, snappy sentences enhance the visuals, the words literally bending and swirling among the striking pictures. The fluidity of the ocean is evoked with curling lines and watercolour, with bright oranges, yellows and reds that contrast with the emerald backdrop, which slowly greys as the rubbish thickens and Mama Ocean becomes more ill. This is an enlightening story with a strong environmental message about the impact of litter on our ocean’s ecosystem, encapsulated within a mesmerising visual presentation. Mama Ocean’s important message is conveyed with a charm and playfulness that will encourage sustainability practice in pre- and primary school children.
Romi Sharp is a picture book writer and digital marketer for children’s authors and publishers.