In Giant Squid, Candace Fleming explores how understanding parts of the whole can lead to understanding the whole. In her beautifully-written and elegantly-constructed book, she shows us parts of the mysterious giant squid, and describes how scientists use tiny clues to piece together more and more information about this fascinating deep-water creature. At the end of the book, we get a brief glimpse in the illustrations of the whole creature, but then it disappears.
The back matter–which is written in the same narrative voice as the main text, only slightly more focused on explanation, talks about how scientists have found their clues–squid beaks in whale bellies, tentacles washed ashore.
The book itself breaks the rules of books. The text starts on the first page, where you’d usually expect publication information. There are a full 2 1/2 spreads of text before you hit the title page. You end up much like the scientists–trying to use the clues in the first pages to figure out what the topic of the book is. The art is beautiful and mysterious. Eric Rohmann has used a dark palette–the feel of the paintings reminded me very much of the dark palette in Coyote Moon.
This is a lyrical, fascinating book about a sea creature but also about the process of gathering knowledge. It’s no surprise that it won a Sibert Honor Award this month.
Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann. Neal Porter Books: 2016.