Thursday, July 13, 2017

Belonging: Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Kelp was born deep in the ocean.

He knew that he was different from the other narwhals.

His tusk wasn't as long as everyone else's. He had different tastes in food--and he wasn't a very good swimmer.

Little Kelp tries to keep up with all the others, but the little narwhals are streamlined and have strong tail flukes that speed them through the water. But his friends are kind enough to swim slowly so that he can play with them and sometimes even give him a lift on their tailfins.

Life was good...

That is, until he was swept away by a strong current.

He found himself at the surface, closer to land than he'd every been before.

And on the shore he finds another world, where he finds that with a little practice, his four little legs go quite fast over the ground. Others with legs--from a crab to a frog--welcome him. Still they don't quite look like him.

And then he sees something both strange and familiar....


Kelp finds himself welcomed by a herd of creatures who look just like him. They have four legs and small horns on their heads. They seem to know what he is immediately.

"Of course you aren't a narwhal," the unicorns told him.

"I am a unicorn!" Kelp said with wonder.

Kelp is happy, but he also misses his good friends in the sea, in Jessie Sima's story of living in two worlds, Not Quite Narwhal (Simon and Schuster, 2017), and in this tale combining real and fantasy animals, there's a happy ending for our little traveler in a mutual game of beach ball volleyball between teams from the land and the sea. Kelp is amazed to learn that his narwhal pals knew what he was all along, and he looks forward to spending some time in both worlds.

Sima's is a hopeful, upbeat story of peaceful coexistence with lively dialog and engaging aqua-hued illustrations which are both comic and charming. Says Kirkus Reviews, "As seen in Sima's soft, digital illustrations, Kelp is adorable, and she evokes both undersea and aboveground environments. The message is an appealing one that could speak to many family situations relating to multiple identities."

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