Monday, June 24, 2024

Meet Mim

Meet Mim
Sandra Severgnini
EK Books, $24.99

Meet Mim keeps readers guessing right from the start through an intriguing game of underwater obfuscation.

As we turn each page, we continue to wonder who, or rather, what is Mim?

It feels like we’re getting nowhere – but we’re actually observing an interesting array of sea creatures including, the spotted flatfish, the spiked lionfish, the creeping hermit crab, the fine-armed feather star and more, all of whom might or might not be Mim.

Why is Mim so elusive? It’s only as the book draws to a close that we discover Mim is actually one of the natural world’s masters of disguise – the mimic octopus. Mim’s incredible skills in mimicry allow her to deter predators by morphing into creatures known to be poisonous (sea snakes for example), and she does this through changing colour, shape and skin texture.

Sandra Severgnini has captured this cephalopod mimicry beautifully by using contrasting washes for the double-page spreads and including the perfect selection of sea creatures and plants to showcase Mim’s superlative shapeshifting.

One of my favourite iterations of Mim is as a mantis shrimp “eyes bulging big and bright”. Another is when she’s being a seashell and there’s a crazed looking crab (at least I think it’s a crab) lurking just a couple of shell-hops away from her.

Through the depiction of the occasional bottle and plastic bag floating or resting on the sea floor, Severgnini also offers readers a gentle reminder that human refuse is littering pristine ocean environments.

From the 5 Fabulous Facts part of the book, we learn that the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) lives in Indo-Pacific waters and has also been found near coral reef islands like those in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The Teacher Notes online are also comprehensive: drawing out Severgnini’s elegant use of language (swishing, swaying, weaving, waving); inviting readers to match a name – mantle, siphon, tentacle, sucker, head, eye – to the corresponding body part on an octopus diagram; and encouraging children to use their voice to mimic different sounds in nature or from audio tracks.

Severgnini owned an art gallery and retail store before she followed her lifetime passion to focus on children’s picture books. She is also fascinated with the natural world and explores it with sensitivity and imagination.

Mim’s tantalising tale of transformation set on the shallow, sandy seabed is another fine picture book to add to her other captivating titles, which I’d encourage you to explore, and which include, Grub and Tree Beings by Raymond Huber, which she illustrated.

While Meet Mim is designed for 5- to 8-year-olds, I think it will appeal to people of all ages.

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