To the Rescue! Clark in the Deep Sea by R. W. Alley
CLARK WAS BUSY COLORING WHEN GRETCHEN ANNOUNCED, "IT'S CIRCUS TIME!
PRESENTING BEAR-O, THE BALANCING BEAR!"
BUT BEAR FORGOT TO BALANCE.
Everyone leaps up just as Bear tumbles over the railing into a yard which suddenly morphs into a raging sea.
"LAUNCH THE LIFEBOATS!" CALLED MITCHELL.
"NO TIME!" CRIED CLARK. HE LEAPED OVER THE SIDE.
Be prepared, seems to be Clark's motto. He's into his scuba gear and swimming in pursuit of the rare and apparently ravenous Fur Shark who has Bear in his jaws already. Fearlessly Clark tussles with his captor, and Bear goes free, only to be carried by the wild current into an undersea cave. Clark swims bravely after Bear, snatches him up, and swims toward the roiling surface, only to be encircled by the long, green Million-Mile Eel!
SWIZZZ CAME THE EEL'S ICY SPRAY, PUSHING CLARK AND BEAR INTO THE SEAWEED BOG.
"OUR AIR IS LOW. WHAT A WAY TO GO!" SAID CLARK.
But it's the Submarine Sibling Rescue Squad on duty, and after a bit of a struggle in the wild waves, Clark, Bear, and rescuers are tossed up safely on the porch once more, where little Gretchen is joyfully reunited with her soggy but salvaged Bear.
Now if only the rain would stop....
And as the song goes, "Gray skies are gonna clear up! Put on a happy face!" in R. W. Alley's just-published Clark in the Deep Sea (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2016). author Alley's narrative is both succinct and suspenseful, and his illustrations are downright delicious.
Artist Alley makes sly use of the objects visible around the kids in the opening pages--Clark's crayoned drawing of a shark. a garden hose which reappears as the Eel, the shaggy dog who shape-shifts into the Fur-Shark, the yellow galoshes which transform into swim fins, Gretchen's Roly-Poly toys which appear as fishy witnesses to the adventure. The yellow porch umbrella morphs into the Yellow Submarine, the doghouse doubles as the stinky Fur-Shark cave, and, as a naysayer to the "this didn't really happen, did it?" crowd, the final page features one delightful sight gag in which the loyal umbrella lies wrecked and the kids' shaggy dog suspiciously eyeballs the marooned fish swimming in his water bowl. This tall tale is a light-hearted tribute to the power of imagination that kids will want to scrutinize over and over, and some sharp-eyed page perusers may even notice that on the first page, Clark is crayoning what looks like a page from this very book.
If you can come up with a copy of the classic by Barbro Lindgren, The Wild Baby Goes to Sea, which similarly transmogrifies household objects into the stuff of a wild sea adventure, pair it with Alley's Clark in the Deep Sea for a wonderfully crafted storytime duo that will not disappoint.
And watch for the coming seasonal adventures of the remaining siblings, Mitchell on the Moon and Annabelle at the South Pole from Clarion.