Anemone is Not the Enemy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

I’m taking a step back into 2020 for this week’s featured book. The mix of STEM, humor, and subversiveness was too good to pass up. Check out that florescent pink!

Text/Illustration ©Anna McGregor

Meet Anemone

Text/Illustration ©Anna McGregor

Anemone hates

“being stuck here with the boring barnacles.”

Cue the snickers. Especially when you look closely and see one of the barnacles saying,

“I thought I was fun?”

When HIGH TIDE rolls in, so do a group of small fish.

Text/Illustration ©Anna McGregor

They are less than excited to be stuck in this small space with Anemone, but we don’t yet know why. The last fish on the right asks that very question, a nice cue for the page turn.

What follows is a very funny depiction of life in this tidepool for an anemone, a hermit crab, and the fish who are stuck there through LOW TIDE, when everyone’s in very close quarters.

The LOW TIDE scene’s spectacular follow-up spread shows exactly what happens when the fish touch Anemone. Cure the pink florescent lightning bolts.

Poor anemone can’t help stinging and makes no friends, no matter how friendly and welcoming it is. It always ends up alienating everyone.

When another HIGH TIDE washes a clown fish into the tidepool (and the other fish out), Anemone finally finds someone who’s just as eager to be a friend.

The tension escalates when a KING TIDE allows a larger predator to infiltrate the tidepool, showing that the friendship between Anemone and the clown fish is critical to the clown fish’s survival.

And the ending? Well, it’s not necessarily a happily ever after kind of story. The ocean is an eat or be eaten world, remember…..

There’s also a secondary story that adds another layer of humor as a hermit crab searches for a new shell.

This is an engaging tidepool tale, one that depicts the dynamics of a marine ecosystem in a bold and original way. There’s also a half page of back matter with three fun facts about the relationship between anemones and clownfish, hermit crabs and their housing issues, and the tides.

I’m really loving the florescent pink endpapers, too.

A note about craft: The author strikes a sweet balance between humor and heart, with Anemone unable to make friends no matter how hard it tries. But there’s also another layer of humor that shows Anemone’s yearning to see (or at least hear about) the larger ocean world from those who enter the tidepool. A yearning that provides the punchline in the end.

Activities: (Lots of videos this week because they’re so interesting)

Pair this book with another pink treat, Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating.

Check out this short National Geographic Youtube video about anemones.

A fascinating and strange Youtube video showing an anemone avoiding a sea star by swimming!

And another video showing a clownfish feeding an anemone, much to the chagrin of a shrimp.

Download an anemone coloring and maze activity sheet from the author’s website.

TITLE: Anemone is Not the Enemy

Author/Illustrator: Anna McGregor

Publisher: Scribble, and imprint of SCRIBE Publications, 2020

Themes: tidepool ecosystem, anemones, symbiosis

Ages: Preschool – 3rd grade

For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

6 thoughts on “Anemone is Not the Enemy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    What a charming and educational book. Had to look up a marine anemone because I didn’t know exactly what it was. I thought perhaps a plant, but wasn’t sure. Anyway, the story is really about friendships and relationships between the predators in the ocean. Love the bright pink!

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