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Dolphin Baby! - Nicola Davies, Brita Granstrom Just to start I have to say how annoyed I am at the informational book titles with the exclamation mark. I can imagine the editors' meeting: "Hmmm. Dolphin baby just doesn't sound interesting enough--how about 'Dolphin Baby!'" It's like they're apologizing for presenting an uninteresting topic.

The differentiated text in this book matches a third-person 'looking in on' narrative with factual vignettes at the edges of each double. Granström's style gives the fuzzy feel of looking at things underwater in the not-quite-clear ocean. The font (Ice Age D) made me feel the same way, so this was a consistent choice by an uncredited designer. Editors didn't list the font for the vignettes, which looks handwritten but isn't, and was just as important a choice. It looks like the designer had Granström draw the mom's 'name' as if it were a signature, and just copied that image in every time as if it were a signature stamp.

Because the color scheme depends mostly on blue, gray, black and white (a little pink for the dolphins), Granström uses contrast and compositional layout as her main devices. One of the most compelling pages is the spread where the baby dives down deep and I see a lot of darkness and some foreboding hammerheads off in the distance.

As a visual grammar (what I mean by grammar: the meaningful relationship between parts), the 'camera' moves back and forth between mid-range shots and close-ups. There are no long range shots, so the expanse of the ocean is given up in favor of visiting close up with these characters. There is little here to suggest that we consider what is off frame. The close-ups do crop off the bodies, which lends to the feeling of closeness. But with the mid-range shots, we are led into a comfortable setting where the point of view makes us think we are seeing all there is to see. The most interesting visual spread was the one where the left side was split into a one-quarter frame and showed an overhead view looking down from the sky (like the birds that dive down in the right 3/4 frame). The divider for this 1/4 - 3/4 spread was painted instead of put in by a designer. I liked this 'diptych' style, and wished she had used more techniques like this to vary the visual relationships (grammar).