narwhal, star of the sea!


“Undersea adventures have never been so darn cute.

One day the unceasingly cheerful Narwhal finds himself “in new waters” and meets his soon-to-be best friend, the slightly apprehensive Jelly the jellyfish. Narwhal has never met a jellyfish, and Jelly has never met a narwhal; the two learn about each other through a lively exchange of facts. Their aquatic adventures are plentiful: they read books together, try to form a not-exclusively-narwhal pod, and daydream about waffles and robots. Jokes abound, giving this a lighthearted animated sensibility. Cool pelagic blues mingle with a merry sunshine yellow over simple, line-based characters, creating a homespun, whimsical feel that works well to evince their buoyant escapades and uncomplicated happiness. Expression lines visually punctuate the illustrations, giving the characters a lively boost. When Narwhal gets a good idea, his tusk lights up to emit jolly, ochre lines; Jelly’s sometimes-dour moods are communicated with scribbly black clouds hovering overhead. Together, Narwhal and Jelly navigate the intricacies of making a friendship work, discovering that friends can share a great time together even when engaged in the most pedestrian activities. The incessant charm and unabashed joy should make this an easy sell.

Swimmingly delightful and a guaranteed smile-maker. (Graphic fiction. 6-10)”


“Geez, Narwhal and Jellyfish are adorable. There’s no other word as appropriate for this duo, who quickly get past having never seen anything like each other and move on to being best friends. After all, they both like waffles and fun, so a tight bond is inevitable—even though each is pretty sure the other is imaginary. This trim graphic novel offers three stories and some bonus material (fun facts about narwhals and jellyfish and a narwhal song), all of which skew young enough that even early readers will coast through with little trouble. Jellyfish is sort of the straight . . . fish to Narwhal’s more freewheeling style, but they’re both pretty loopy. The high point of humor is the final story, wherein Jellyfish sets out to read Narwhal’s favorite book, only to discover it is blank; the concept, conveyed with a blank double-page spread, is both amusing and thought-provoking. Cool, creamy blues play nicely with cheerful yellow, evoking both sunny delight and the oceanic depths from which these two sprang. There’s a lot conveyed with very few lines, as Jellyfish’s face in particular shows incredible range, from fear to exasperation to exuberant joy (meanwhile, Narwhal is apparently in a state of perpetual bliss). The odd-couple pairing is familiar ground in children’s lit, but it works so well here, and with such agreeable illustrations, that any lack of originality is easily forgiven; readers will likely clamor for the next outing.”

– April Spisak, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED review

“Clanton (Something Extraordinary) introduces an imaginative and self-confident narwhal in a bubbly trio of comics. In the first story, Narwhal befriends Jelly, a jellyfish, even though Jelly has never met a narwhal and Narwhal has never met a jellyfish. “What is up with that horn?” asks a frowning Jelly. “It’s actually more of a tusk-tooth,” Narwhal replies good-naturedly. Clanton outlines his heroes in rough pencil and colors them digitally—Narwhal resembles a floating comma, Jelly a semicircle with dangly tentacles—creating a loose, off-the-cuff aquatic environment. The cast grows in the second tale as Narwhal amasses an eclectic pod of sea creatures who grin broadly as they get their honorary narwhal horns (sorry, tusk-teeth). Bantering dialogue entertains throughout, but the book’s best moment might belong to the third story, when Narwhal lends Jelly his “favorite book in the whole wide water,” which is blank (Clanton gives the joke maximum impact by including two blank pages). “It’s an imagination book, Jelly!” Narwhal explains. Readers ready for underwater goofiness of the non-SpongeBob variety will be eager for more adventures from this duo. Ages 6–9. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Oct.)”

– Publishers Weekly