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Kids Picture Book Review – Oona

OONA

Written by Kelly DiPucchio

Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa

(Katherine Tegen Books; $17.99; Ages 4-8)

 

 

Oona cover

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Starred review – School Library Journal

 

Written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Raissa Figueroa, Oona introduces us to an adorable mermaid whose adventurous spirit is  “sweet … and a little bit salty, like the ocean where she live[s].” 

In fact, Oona was born to be a treasure hunter when she was “no bigger than a scallop.” Her curiosity for finding bigger and better valuables puts her in some precarious situations but with trusted pet Otto by her side, she safely discovers all kinds of gems. 

 

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Oona from Katherine Tegen Books Text copyright 2020 by Kelly DiPucchio Illustration copyright 2020 by Raissa Figueroa

 

One item, though, is particularly impossible to collect: an “extra sparkly” crown “stuck deep in [a] rift.” Oona’s resourcefulness and determination motivate her to try and try again, but natural forces in the sea-plus a terrifying, toothy surprise-hinder her efforts. 

 

Oona int3
Oona from Katherine Tegen Books Text copyright 2020 by Kelly DiPucchio Illustration copyright 2020 by Raissa Figueroa

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A ship plank that bumps her head “(hard!)” is the last straw. Oona quits trying to get that crown and deserts her beloved sea; yet, she knows in her heart that’s where she belongs.

When treasure washes up on the seashore, Oona’s passion for tinkering is reignited. With her homemade invention, she braves the depths of the rift to try for the crown once more. But the real treasure she finds is experiencing what she’s capable of creating.

The beautiful and lush illustrations completely submerge us into Oona’s underwater world. Shapes are soft, edges rounded, and the jewel-toned color palette is gentle and calm, all echoing Oona’s quiet confidence. I particularly enjoy the way light emanates from the background of the illustrations giving hope and energy to Oona’s searches. 

Oona is a treasure trove of multiple layers to hook in a wide range of readers. Mermaid fans, marine life enthusiasts, explorers, and crafters will undoubtedly enjoy this message of persistence and self-belief.  

  •  Reviewed by Armineh Manookian

 

Click here to read another review by Armineh.

 

 

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The Simple Treasures of Childhood

This imaginative book is reviewed by Debbie Glade, who still thinks of herself as a kid.

I love books that inspire imagination and encourage children to entertain themselves in non-technical ways. Author Kelly Bennett got the wonderful idea for One Day I Went Rambling ($17.95, Bright Sky Press, ages 5-8), after spending time treasure -hunting with her own children.

This is a story about a boy who finds everyday objects and uses his imagination to pretend that these finds are fantastic treasures. An old soda pop top becomes a pirate’s magic ring, a packing crate becomes a wooden barge and a paper bag becomes a mighty warrior’s shield. At first the boy’s friends make fun of him for pretending, but fascinated by his imagination and the fun that he has with the found objects, that all changes. In addition to the charming story, you’ll enjoy the illustrations by Terry Murphy, a self-proclaimed rambler of her own. The main illustrations are in full color, and the supplemental ones are in black and white – a nice contrast.

In this age of technology and sophisticated toys, it is so refreshing to read a book that stimulates children to use their own imaginations. This book reminds us that creative thinking combined with simple pleasures make for a wonderful childhood and the promise of a successful future.

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