Author: Leyland Perree
Illustrator: Stuart McGhee
Year published: 2013
Publisher: Ghostly Publishing
Number of pages: 36
Recommended age: 3+
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
1. What is the story about? This story is about an octopus and an eel who go in a race with all kinds of other sea animals like fish, a shark, a crab, a whale, and a … SNAIL? What?! They go through caves and they go through a sunken boat where the whale gets stuck. Everybody tries to help, but it’s Eel and Ock who get him out. At first, I didn’t expect who won to win, but the race was fun for everyone.
2. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I loved all the pictures in the book and my favorite one was the one was where Mark the Snail was on the cannonball.
3. What is your favorite part of the story? My favorite part of the story is when the shark bumps into the wall because it was payback for pushing everybody in the race. I liked that Eel and Ock stopped racing so they could help the whale. I would do the same thing in a race because helping is more important than winning.
4. What is your least favorite part of the story? I didn’t like when the shark was pushing everybody. He was being a mean sport.
5. Who did you think was going to win the race when all the competitors were introduced? I thought Ock was going to win because he looked the fastest.
6. Overall, what did you think about this book? I really liked this book and I’m about to do my first race too. I’m going to be a good sport and have a good time because everybody who does the race gets a gold medal.
7. Who do you think would like this book? Anyone who like fishy stories would like this book.
Son Rating: ★★★★★
Son Rating: ★★★★★
Far beneath the ocean waves
And in the underwater caves
Exciting news was spreading fast:
“The Great Reef Race is here at last!”
What it’s About: Those are the opening lines to the delightfully whimsical tale of diverse marine animals all striving to finish first in the annual “Great Reef Race”. But expect the unexpected when friends Ock the Octopus and Eel, well…the eel bump shoulders with a crab, a shark, a whale, a snail, and “squishy things from foreign waters” among others all vie to be the winner of the race. Who will win this fun race? The answer might surprise you!
My Thoughts: This book was truly a pleasant surprise! Leyland Perree in partnership with illustrator Stuart McGhee have created a wonderful little story with beautiful pictures that is sure to be loved by children and adults alike. The main premise of the book is that a collection of marine creatures all partake in a race where they must overcome a variety of barriers in order to win. There are many lessons to learn along the way.
Ock and Eel learn about playing fair when they find themselves being bumped around by the shark who is attempting to cheat to get ahead. But, as we’ve seen before, cheaters don’t win and the shark ends up bumping into a cave wall which results in him not completing the race. I love when stories include lessons about karma. This is a concept I teach my children on a daily basis.
I love being surprised in books and the ending of this book is wonderfully unpredictable. Ock and Eel learn a valuable lesson when they stop and help the whale who finds himself in a rather unpleasant predicament. After all,
‘We can’t just leave him here,’ said Eel.
‘If that was you, how would you feel?’
What I love is that this is not a typical story about a great adventure that ends with the main characters coming out as the winners. In fact, they lose and what this book does so well (and unexpectedly) is teach children how to be gracious losers. I really loved that about this book.
I love the way the author builds the suspense closer to the end of the story. There is a change in the rhythm of the text and the author uses onomatopoeia to simulate grunts and groans and an explosion in the story. This really grabbed the kids attention and gave me the opportunity to create excitement in the story. Further, as the racers approaches the finish line, the author does a great job of using illustrations and text to describe how Ock and Eel start to lose steam. It was really well done!
I have to comment on the illustrations that they are absolutely magnificent! The pictures use bright and bold colours and many of them span two pages. There are many contrasts between the pictures as well. For example, there are “darker” pages when the creatures find themselves in a cave and there are other pages that are bright blue when they are underwater. Further, there is an incredible amount of detail in each of the pictures. My son would point out different things that we had missed each time we re-read the book. All in all, these are some of the most beautiful illustrations we’ve run across in the picture books we’ve reviewed in the last year.
My Bottom Line: This is a beautifully illustrated picture book that features fantastic main characters; a diverse and interesting cast of supporting characters; a fun and whimsical story; solid rhyming and cadence; and, important life lessons for children.
Who Would Like This Book? I think most boys and girls ages 3 to 8 would love to flip through this beautiful book and hear this delightful story.
Mom Rating: ★★★★★
Mom Rating: ★★★★★
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review.*
About the Author:
Leyland Perree is a freelance children’s author. His illustrated picture books include Frog on the Log, The Goat that Gloats and Toad’s Road Code. His books have been translated into several languages and distributed far and wide across the globe. He counts British Prime Minister David Cameron as one of his readers.
The Great Reef Race is his first book with Ghostly Publishing, and his first collaboration with illustrator Stuart McGhee, who, we’re happy to say, survived the ordeal.
Leyland’s inspirations and ideas stem from a childhood love of rhyme and imaginative storytelling from the likes of Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan.
Leyland lives in Devon with his wife and son. For more on Leyland Perree and his books, visit his website at http://leylandperree.weebly.com/
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