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Mister Seahorse Hardcover – April 26, 2004

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A perfect gift for baby showers, birthdays, and happy occasions of all kinds, it is also a great way to show Pop some love on Father’s Day! Learn more | See more Seuss classics
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Are you ready for a scintillating seahorse fact? The father seahorse is the one who carries the mother's eggs around in his pouch before they hatch. In Mister Seahorse, master collage artist Eric Carle teaches preschoolers this lesson and introduces them to a few other fish who bear the traditionally maternal burden of caring for eggs: the stickleback, tilapia, Kurtus nurseryfish (known here as Mr. Kurtus), pipefish, and bullhead catfish. As ever, it's Carle's art that steals the show. Cut-up tissue paper soaks up the watery paint and makes for a boldly colorful, almost jewel-like undersea journey. The story? Well, repetition is the heart of instruction, after all.

Most of Carle's books employ some sort of gizmo or gadget--and this one is no exception. Here, for a splendid lesson in camouflage, colorful acetate sheets mask marine life that is revealed as the child turns the page. Children may take comfort in the devotion of these undersea fathers...except perhaps at the very end when the father seahorse says to a freshly hatched sea-pony who wants back in the pouch: "I do love you, but now you are ready to be on your own." (Preschool) --Karin Snelson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* PreS-Gr. 3. In this tribute to fathers, fish, and otherwise, Carle adds an element to his signature painted tissue-paper collages that makes his art exceptionally striking. After Mrs. Seahorse deposits her eggs in his pouch, Mr. Seahorse drifts gently through the sea, meeting five other fish fathers who participate in prenatal care: Mr. Stickleback hatches the eggs; Mr. Tilapia holds the eggs in his mouth; Mr. Kurtus, a nurseryfish, sticks the eggs on his head until they hatch; Mr. Pipe, a pipefish, carries the eggs on his narrow belly; and Mr. Bullhead, a catfish, babysits newly hatched fry. With each encounter comes a delightful surprise: an acetate overlay camouflages the sea creatures as Mister Seahorse passes by: a lionfish hides in a coral reef; a stonefish hides behind a rock. The vivid, multicolored fish and translucent scenery perfectly evoke the watery backdrop, and the acetate sea scenes are as innovative as the die-cuts in Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Pair this with Lionni's Swimmy for a delightful glass-bottomed boat tour. Awash with the wonders of undersea life, this is a stunning, ingeniously conceived lesson in nature as well as a celebration of fatherly affection. Julie Cummins
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 5 years
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition edition (April 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399242694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399242694
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Victoria on August 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Despite the negative commentary from some reviewers, I say the real truth comes in the "true raters"--the children!! My 2+ yr old daughter was given this book as a gift (that she picked out in the bookstore). She absolutely loves it, and in the month that we've had it, we've read it nearly 50 times at her request. She loves the colors and the transparency overlays, and definitely points out the "daddy" seahorse (as well as the "mommy") every time we read it together. Her favorite page is the last one as Mr. Seahorse releases his babies with love and points out that it's time for the little ones to be on their own. She simply adores this book!

Given the commentary of many of the reviewers on the father fish "babysitting" the baby fish....If you do look to nature, many animals (and many male animals) do abandon their offspring...so I saw the book more as personifying family in nature rather than making a sexist commentary on fatherhood, patriarchal society, or gender roles in parenting.

Likewise, with older children, it could be a great springboard for discussions on responsibility and caring. I plan to use it in this manner in my 3rd grade class this year. It's at this point a person could discuss the phrasing, and talk about the parental role--moms and dads both babysit at times while the other does an errand...and "babysit" is a term children understand.

Perhaps at times, we can get so caught up in being politically correct, that we miss the forest through the trees, or miss a great book on an over-exaggerated technicality that's taken too seriously.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
We first met Eric Carle through the pages of The Hungry Caterpillar, and we've been devoted fans from that day to this. As an author/illustrator his enthusiasm and imagination never ebb as he again fashions collage illustrations that catch and hold our eyes. Seahorse is one more achievement.
Basing his witty and informative tale on fact young readers are introduced to Mr. Seahorse, a fish father who looks after his young. It is, of course, Mrs. Seahorse who lays the eggs, right in Mr. Seahorse's pouch.
Mr. Seahorse is not the only fish father (we might think of him as a house husband) in his watery world - there's also Mr. Bullhead, Mr. Pipe, and Mr. Kurtus.
As always, Eric Carle both enchants and illuminates.
- Gail Cooke
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I think I am right in saying that Eric Carle is the most popular children's picture book artist living today that eschews the universal convention of facial expressions. Not every illustrator in the world could get away with it. Carle has sort of established a whole new placid unemotional genre all on his own. Consider, if you will, "The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar" who shows one brief moment of bellyache related pain before bursting from his cocoon to become a beautiful unexpressive butterfly. For my own part, this disregard of facial expressions is hard to get through. In one of his latest offerings, "Mister Seahorse", Carle tackles the weighty subject of a father's responsibility to his kin. Since I like this book more than some of Carle's others, I suggest you take the hero's nonplussed attitude as merely a realistic representation of real seahorses in the wild.

One day, Mrs. Seahorse becomes preggers. As is the seahorse custom, she promptly deposits her eggs in Mr. Seahorse's pouch. With the eggs safely ensconced there, Mr. Seahorse goes about his daily rounds. While out, he comes across Mr. Stickleback, Mr. Tilapia, Mr. Kurtus, Mr. Pipe, and Mr. Bullhead. Each fish has his own distinct way of caring for his born and unborn young. For example, Mr. Bullhead baby-sits (admittedly, Carle could have used a better term for this) his newborn hatchlings while Mr. Tilapia carries his young's eggs around in his mouth. Kids reading this book with their parents have the added pleasure of watching Mr. Seahorse as he approaches single fishies hiding in seaweed, behind coral reefs, and in small patches of reeds. In these scenes the page becomes translucent plastic, the reeds, reefs, and seaweed a beautifully painted scene overlaying the action. In the end, Mr.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Julie Jordan Scott on August 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Seahorse carries eggs in his pouch and passes time visiting other Seafaring/living daddies. Beautiful acetone pages teach little readers about the plants underwater and how the fish creatively camouflage themselves to stay safe.

Carle's signature style of illustration captures the delight of my children and of me, too.

I personally laughed at the "babysitting" comment of one of the fish dads. How many times have I heard my friends complaining about fathers terming the time they spend alone with their children as "babysitting"?

Perfect time for the parent reading the book to laugh with the child and say "He isn't babysitting, he is Daddying!"

I learned a couple great "fishy" lessons from this colorful book. Great to read after watching "Finding Nemo." another favorite in my family.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David Swanson on August 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like all Eric Carle books it's a beautifuly colored and in his signature style. It features different hidden characters behind acetate.

What make this particularly interesting is that it's all about marine life where the males handle the eggs and not the females.

I found that wonderfully educational to show my kids different sea creatures where the dads carry around the eggs in many many different ways. In their mouths, on their bellies, in pouches etc. until they hatch. I was surprized and loved to see and explain that!

It's a simple concept, whereby if a mom sea creature were to be introduced it would not only physically complicate the illustrated pages, it would also distract from the simplicity of the storyline.

So where are the moms? Does it matter? There's references galore as to how happy the Mrs. must be. This book doesn't suggest single parenting, alternative lifestyles, or anything other than the simple reckognition of marine species caring for their offspring completely different than animals and people and illustrating the differences to children in a simple and eye opening way. It's a "well what do you know"! "Look at how that one does that"! for preschoolers. Simple concepts.

4 stars for refering to one sea creatures particular parental duty as "babysitting" not parenting...

BUT on a very simple note, just tell your child as I did, "oops, that should be parenting and not babysitting because parents can't babysit their own kids, that's their job" NO BIG DEAL. It's pretty darn easy to use some parental wisdom to make that correction. It brings up 2 more lessons. Nobody is perfect and everything that's in print isn't neccesarily the truth (well, an older kids lesson). Eric Carle is an older gentleman.
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