Magic under a sea studded with stars: ‘The Sea Tiger’

When Moontrug saw Waterstones Bookseller, Leilah Skelton, write: ‘Each page turn of The Sea Tiger took my breath away…the “watery” oil-blurred technique and turquoise/sepia colour palate make me want to hang every single page as a work of art’ she knew she had to get a copy of The Sea Tiger ASAP. That day in fact. And as Moontrug sat down to read it hours later, she knew that Skelton was absolutely right about this book: author and illustrator, Victoria Turnbull, has produced a truly sparkling debut…

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Oscar and the Sea Tiger are best friends and together they travel to extraordinary places under a sea studded with stars. Each page draws the reader deeper into a world of circus shells and carousels, past shoals of shimmering fish and clusters of sea horses. Moontrug read the book at lunch-time in London – cars were zooming past the house and taxi horns blaring, but Moontrug was so far under the sea that all she could hear were turtles croaking and whale song rising and falling with the current.

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The Sea Tiger and Oscar’s world is brimming with magic and wonder, just like Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, and the colours Turnbull uses are mesmerising: turquoises, corals, deep greens. It’s impossible not to lose yourself in her book. The Sea Tiger is beautiful – a large and mysterious creature (a bit like C.S. Lewis’ Aslan, a bit like something even more magical and unknown), and Oscar, with his punk of orange hair and gorgeous stripy mer tail, is adorable.

The dance

The language is simple but powerful – and lines like Sea Tiger’s ‘When we’re together, anything is possible’ and ‘Where I lead, Oscar follows’ reminded Moontrug of Pooh’s friendship with Piglet. Because although the Sea Tiger shows Oscar the secrets of the ocean, Oscar has no other friends. And so it’s up to the Sea Tiger to lead Oscar on a journey towards making one. From start to finish – MAGICAL – a truly gorgeous debut and Moontrug can’t wait to see what Turnbull’s next book holds…

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