Emily Dove is an illustrator and author who lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where the winding rivers and fall foliage never cease to inspire her. As a certified naturalist, she uses illustration as a tool to educate and inspire others about the natural world. About her debut picture book Wendell the Narwhal, Kirkus Reviews said “children will find a lot to like in little Wendell.” She also illustrated Spencer and Vincent, the Jellyfish Brothers by Tony Johnston.
Sibling jellyfish Spencer and Vincent are the best of friends and even have written a funny song that they share: "My brother, my brother, he's sweet, not smelly. I love him from down in my jelly belly." Their happy existence is threatened when a storm generates an enormous wave that sweeps Vincent away. Although the story contains many fantasy elements, the way jellyfish move is presented more factually, described as floating, bobbing, and pulsing. Spencer desperately wants to save Vincent but knows he cannot travel quickly on his own. He enlists the assistance of his friend Horace the whale, who pushes Spencer in the right direction. Other creatures try to help, but no one is sure how to retrieve unconscious Vincent safely, until Spencer comes up with a sweet, smart plan. Poetic, unusual vocabulary, with phrases such as "superior magnitude," "tenderness of tentacles," and "spark of verve," make the text fun to read aloud. Digital and watercolor illustrations by a certified California naturalist create an appealing undersea world, and an author's note supplies jellyfish facts. — Lucinda Whitehurst
– Booklist, Nov 15, 2018
"Brothers Spencer and Vincent live happily in the sea together (“Spencer was a jellyfish. Vincent was also”), singing their favorite brotherly song, until one day a “wave of superior magnitude” sweeps Vincent away. Since jellyfish have very little power of propulsion, Spencer can’t catch up to him, so he’s helped by his friend Horace the whale and guided by other denizens of the sea until he finds Vincent and, with Horace’s help, saves him from stranding on the sandy beach. The text is deliberately silly, the brotherly song a wonderful opportunity for performance absurdity, and the humor self-knowingly arch; while the self-conscious tone threatens to overcome the story at times, the jellyfish-real details, such as Spencer’s limited movement, weirdly and satisfyingly ground the story. Dove’s digital and watercolor illustrations, usually full bleeds of the ocean and its prettied-up inhabitants, lean toward graphic art in their focus on cuteness, and they give the sea world a pleasing rhythm of filtered light and fronds of plants and make freckled, redheaded Vincent sympathetic in his plight. Older kids and younger ones will enjoy this at different levels, so it’s easily shareable with sibs of different ages, and they’ll be delighted to join in on the goofy brotherly song."
– BCCB *STARRED REVIEW, December 2018
Readers may be reminded a little of Finding Nemo in this story of one jellyfish brother who is determined to rescue another. Orphaned undersea siblings Spencer and Vincent “love each other to the very core of their jelly” and celebrate their bond with a special song: “My brother, my brother,/ he’s sweet, not smelly./ I love him from down in/ my jelly belly.” When Vincent is carried away by a big wave, Spencer enlists his ocean pals—a whale, a mermaid, and others—and employs the brothers’ theme song to help the exhausted Vincent find his way back. Johnston (Laugh-Out-Loud Baby) writes in a quirky-sweet voice that keeps the narrative moving along, and she gets surprising comic mileage from two recurring and offbeat phrases: “superior magnitude” (used to describe anything big, from the tidal wave to a whale to a triumphant brotherly embrace) and “your brother who’s sweet, not smelly?” Digitally enhanced watercolors by Dove (Wendell the Narwhal) have a cheery vintage feel, with crisp lines; smudgy, rich colors; and a cast of smiling, wide-eyed, eager-to-help characters—even a potential predatory pelican is given the benefit of the doubt.`
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