by J. Steven Spires & Jonathan Caron, illustrator
Inspired Books Publishing 5/01/2013
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Three little shrimp are swimming with their troop . . . one adventurer, one follower and on worry wart. As their eyes fall upon the wonders around them, they suddenly get an idea. Two are ready to explore. The other is not so sure. There is only one problem. Unseen danger lurks in the water. What will they do?”
“One fine day three little shrimp went swimming.”
Three shrimp were part of a group—a troop—of shrimp heading out to sea. Immediately, the three shrimp separated from the others, but it is unknown how that happened. In their lone adventures, they run into four dangerous situations, and four times, they came out of it unscathed, making them very lucky shrimp indeed. First, they swam near the shore and three egrets envision a pot of gumbo. Just in time, the three shrimp ducked into a hole, despite the third shrimp’s misgivings, and avoided the egrets. In the hole, they nibbled on worms.
The shrimp also narrowly avoided a huge fish looking for a snack and an extremely dangerous looking loggerhead turtle. Both times, the shrimp were saved by their hunger as they swam into sea grass and algae and ate “until their stomachs burst.” Finally, a fisherman wants the shrimp for bait. Luckily, the shrimp swam down, just out of reach of where the fisherman cast his net, to devour minnows into their ever-expanding stomachs.
The shrimp are of two distinct personalities. The first is a leader and the other two are followers, though the third is also a worrier that the other two ignore. The shrimps’ narrow escapes are just good old fashioned dumb luck, as none of them even saw the dangers they were in. Finding the rest of the group—the troop—was also luck, though that time they did have a goal in mind and worked toward the goal.
The illustrations, tempered by the aqua-green sea and the greyish-brown prawn, tend to be dark,* yet realistic. The other animals add color to the spreads while the scenes above the sea fill the spread with wonderful hues of yellow and orange.There is a grainy textured effect to the illustrations, giving them a worn look.The eyes carry all emotion in the story. The egrets, the huge fish, and the loggerhead turtle have mean, dangerous eyes making them predators anything would be scared of . . . unless oblivious to their presence. The shrimp have bright, inquisitive eyes matching their curiosity and giving away their young, innocent, inexperienced age.
Most interesting is the illustrator, fifteen-year-old Jonathan Caron, a high school art-student. Two years later, at seventeen, Jonathan finished the picture book, the coloring, and other activity illustrations. It all helped Johnathan win a full scholarship to a German university, where he now studies architecture.
If there is a message in this story it would be: for luck and safety, keep your mind on your stomach. No, Three Little Shrimp is simply a cute story for entertainment sake and nothing more and that’s okay. Not every story needs to contain a message to kids. Those interested in ocean life and animals will find this story most enjoyable. The simplistic nature of the story is best for younger children, age 4 to 6. Three Little Shrimp is both the author and illustrator’s debut children’s book and debut in the publishing world with Inspired Books Publishing.
*When printed, the spreads above look darker in the actual picture book.
THREE LITTLE SHRIMP. Text copyright © 2013 by J. Steven Spires. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Jonathan Caron. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Inspired Books Publishing, Slidell, LA.
Meet the illustrator, Jonathan Caron, the son of children’s book illustrator Romi Caron, who supervised her son’s at work.
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