cover image Oona


Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Raissa Figueroa. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-298224-7

Oona is a little mermaid who’s the very definition of intrepid. She loves to hunt for deep sea treasure (which readers will recognize as humans’ lost and discarded items) with her sidekick, Otto the otter; in one funny scene, they chill on the ocean floor wearing chic human sunglasses that they’ve scavenged—cat eyes for Oona, aviators for Otto. But the big prize that Oona is after is an “extra sparkly” crown she’s spotted, wedged into a corner of the ocean. Does she have the patience and ingenuity to extract it? Despite DiPucchio’s (Grace Goes to Washington) concise and sprightly text, the storytelling loses some of its drive as Oona’s quest encounters requisite setbacks, and the life lesson wrap-up (“Because sometimes the best treasure in the world isn’t found. It’s made”) feels unnecessary. But the digital illustrations by Figueroa (Sophie and Little Star) are a true wonder of the deep, with compositions worthy of full-length animated features, and a palette of radiant, translucent greens, blues, and magentas. Brown-skinned Oona, who wears a magnificent Afro studded with bioluminescent wisps, floats through the ocean exuding the kind of upbeat confidence that should have readers asking for more. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Natascha Morris, BookEnds Literary. (Jan.) [/em]