By Matthias Picard
Abrams Books for Young Readers, $19.95, 32 pages
Mathias Piccard’s large, sturdy and beautifully illustrated 3-D vision book Jim Curious: A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea immediately grabs your attention and demands, at a minimum, to be cracked open. The rich blues and textured reds of the cover already propel the story forward and hint at a brewing visual feast. Stretching to an impressive 13 plus inches high the author was clearly in need of a substantial palette to work with.
Not surprisingly, the pages do not disappoint when it comes to their visual quality and playfulness. However, be aware that the story is told through its drawings, not words, as there are only seven words throughout the entire story, and all on the first two pages. Most pages have multiple panels, reminiscent of a graphic novel, but with so few words the author is leaning heavily on his illustrations to keep the reader engaged.
The two 3D glasses tucked into a plastic pocket on the inside of the back cover allow for two people in the family to join Jim in his underwater journey. With a grin on his face and boyish eagerness, and donning a bulbous underwater diving suit, Jim embarks on a solo voyage into the depths of the sea. He soon finds fish as far as the eye can see before floating towards a hungry shark, octopus and even a whale.
Uncovering a lost world and slowly spiraling towards what appears to be the bottom of the ocean, Jim takes an unusual, yet adventurous path, and the book an unexpected ending.
The only hint of a moral can be found on the two pages of Jim first entering the water. There are numerous man made items scattered about the sea floor, something that is largely missing from the remainder of the book. The message seems to be that the ocean is unfortunately not a pristine place thanks to humans, but there is still tremendous wonder and beauty to experience and discover.
While this exploratory book is aimed at kids, adults with a flare for the imaginative will find it worth their time as well. If you are a fan of graphic novels, with the added 3D twist, then Jim Curious could quite possibly float both you and your kid’s boat.
Reviewed by Andrew Smyth