We were first introduced to Narwhal and Jelly in Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. This sequel lets us know what the two of them have been up to since then.
It's worth the wait.
First off, it's impossible to not connect to these characters. Narwhal and Jelly are flat out adorable. If you don't fall instantly in love with them, you probably have sociopathic tendencies.
In this book, Narwhal decides to be a superhero and Jelly decides to be his sidekick. It doesn't take long for them to figure out that becoming superheroes isn't easy. They have to come up with names, super outfits, secret identities and figure out what their superpowers will be. Once they determine the first three, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt discover that finding their superpowers is going to be a challenge. The usual things like invisibility and super strength don't work for them. It doesn't worry them though. They will probably figure out their superpowers after lunch.
Following that delightful introduction, we see Super Narwhal doing some pretty super things like helping a starfish return to the sky, and cheering up a sad feeling Jelly. The two friends even write their own comic book, Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick. Eventually Super Narwhal's superpower is revealed, but I'm not going to spoil the book for you by telling you the ending. What I will tell you is that it is a brilliant twist to the expected.
Clanton's illustrations work brilliantly with the text. Humor and sweetness combine to make his work appealing to a broad range of audiences. Older readers will enjoy reading this outloud to younger ones because of the emotions portrayed in characters faces, the spoof on serious superhero comics and the play on words, (especially in the Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick comic.)
The page spread revealing the true super powers of real ocean creatures is a delightful integration of fact with fiction.
I am infatuated with this book for all kinds of reasons. I welcome that these two individuals are primarily gender neutral, but what I appreciate most are the messages about not giving up, and supporting, helping and bringing out the best in others.
Fans of Elephant and Piggie books will appreciate Clanton's less is more format. In fact, Clanton's Narwhal and Jelly are the perfect stepping up point for young readers ready to move on from these simpler titles.