Eric Carle’s brightly coloured seahorse swims through the ocean, carefully shielding the eggs he is carrying for Mrs Seahorse. On the way he meets a variety of other sea-creatures, all male, who also take a large role in ‘parenting’ their offspring. The book is enhanced with transparent pages printed with rocks and seaweed, which partially hide more surprise fish that Mr Seahorse meets on his journey.
It’s a very educational story, in the sense that by the end of it you know that seahorses, Kurtus nurseryfish, stickleback, tilapia and bullhead catfish all play a role in nurturing their young. It even explains where each of the fish stores their eggs. Other fish also appear briefly.
The trouble is that although the bright pages and transparent elements are visually very appealing, the story doesn’t really work. The text is repetitive and awkward: “How are you, Mr Kurtus?” asked Mr Seahorse. “Perfectly fine,” replied Mr Kurtus. “Mrs Kurtus laid her eggs and I have stuck them on my head. Now I am taking good care of them until they hatch.” The transparent pages don’t really add anything to the story; there is no explanation for the presence of the leaf fish, trumpet fish and stone fish hiding behind them.
In pratice this has proved a popular story but it is not Eric Carle’s greatest moment.