Reviews /

The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish

Authored by Chloe Savage
Illustrated by Chloe Savage
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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A beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of a scientist’s exploration of the Arctic Sea in search of the giant Arctic jellyfish. Dr. Morley and her team spend months searching, diving beneath the ice, and watching a host of other animals and birds, but there is no sign of the jellyfish.

The ink and watercolour illustrations are at the heart of this fabulous debut book, supporting short sections of text and enticing the observant and curious reader to spot the jellyfish which can be seen hiding on numerous pages. The beautiful range of blues and whites used for the ocean, sky, and ice contrasts with the bright red of the scientists’ clothing and their ship; the author’s perspective allows readers to see both above and below the surface of the sea. I particularly liked the greens of the Northern Lights on one double page spread and, after several reads, the romantic proposal that is happening under its light.

The ship and its crew of fellow scientists and their gear are revealed in detailed cutaway views. There is a degree of realism here in Savage’s decision to show the engine room, bridge, laboratories, galley and living quarters. This realistic vision of a scientific journey, led by a female scientist, set within a fictional narrative, may be helpful for children learning about STEM, and considering how important the crew’s perseverance in the light of apparent failure to find their goal will be. Although, does the trip end with failure?

There are elements of Where’s Wally? in the story as the jellyfish is shown hiding and watching the explorers, and children may well enjoy the sense that they know more than the characters. The small figures of the scientists contrast with the scale of the land and seascapes, and also with the large size of the beluga whales, orcas and narwhals, giving a sense of the relative importance of humanity within the natural world.

A lovely book for teachers to read with younger children in KS1, perhaps accompanying lessons on climate change, science and the environment. Some readers may also enjoy researching the history of real polar expeditions and identifying the facts and figures behind the largest jellyfish ever found. I enjoyed the combination of fiction and fact in this sparkling, playful story – highly recommended.