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Coral reefs are teeming with life and activity but they are vulnerable environments which need to be protected. So this new edition of a vibrant picture book about a reef and the many interesting fish that live there is welcome. Young listeners and readers follow the adventures of Clownfish as she encounters Sea Slug, Porcupine Fish, Spottyfish and fierce looking Dragonfish – all shown in large detailed pictures glowing with colour. Children will be informed and entertained by the depiction of the defence mechanisms of the creatures – not least Cuttlefish’s expulsion of a ‘murky black cloud’ and Lobster’s brutal nip. The concept of symbiosis is skilfully introduced; the Sweetlips Fish, for example, has his mouth cleaned by ‘two little Blue-Streaked cleaners’ – rather as Clownfish herself looks after the anemone where she lives and feeds. All this is contained within an exciting story. Things take a dramatic turn when huge Eel advances and has Clownfish scurrying back to ‘her nest of tentacles’.
An explanation from the Southampton Oceanography Centre helps the reading adult answer children’s questions. This would be a splendid book to read to the under fives at home or in the Nursery. But there is enough here to interest slightly older children too.