Readers’ Favorite Review

Melissa Tanaka

“Kobee Manatee: Shipwreck Sea Friends” is a fun underwater adventure written by Robert Scott Thayer and illustrated by Lauren Gallegos. Kobee, a bold manatee, along with his friends Tess, a brave seahorse, and Pablo, a fun loving hermit crab, head to Puerto Rico to explore the shipwreck of the SS Antonio López. Along the way, they meet several new friends of all shapes and sizes, ranging from an eight-inch long spotfin butterfly fish to a 40-foot long whale shark! This is the third book in the Kobee Manatee series and is published in collaboration with Fabien Cousteau, grandson of the legendary ocean expert Jacques Cousteau. While you don’t necessarily need to read the other two books first, you’ll find yourself falling for Kobee and friends and wanting to hear more about their adventures.

Whether you are an avid sea explorer or simply someone who wants to learn more about our oceans, “Kobee Manatee: Shipwreck Sea Friends” is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that is the perfect addition to any bookshelf! Kobee reminds readers that our oceans are precious resources and the habitat for many a wonderful creature, and that we should do everything we can to protect them. In addition, each page contains some of Kobee’s Fun Facts, which provide children with real life information about the animals and locations that they read about in the book. The story truly comes to life thanks to Lauren Gallegos’ wonderful illustrations as you find yourself diving into the story and enjoying every moment of Kobee and friends’ adventure.

Review is for Book 3: Shipwreck Sea Friends


“Another creative blending of real-life oceanography and gentle fantasy in a smart and entertaining series.”

In this latest installment of a science- and nature-based picture book series for young children, a curious manatee journeys with old and new aquatic friends to the site of a sunken ship.

Fresh from an eventful, hurricane-tossed swim from Key West, Florida, to the Bahamas, Kobee Manatee heads out for another undersea adventure in this third volume that continues the informative series by author Thayer (Kobee Manatee: A Wild Weather Adventure, 2015, etc.) and illustrator Gallegos (Ernie’s Wish Tail, 2016, etc.). Accompanied by his pals Pablo, a hermit crab, and Tess, a sea horse, Kobee sets out for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in search of the wreckage of the SS Antonio López, a real-life, 19th-century ship sunk during the Spanish-American War. (Its description is one of “Kobee’s Fun Facts,” tidbits that are set apart from the story’s text and highlighted throughout the book’s colorful pages.) On the way to the ship, the band is joined by a lonely octopus named Ben. When Kobee is trapped by a beam while swimming through the wreck, Ben and new friends Alis, a playful goldentail moray eel, and Sandy, a nurse shark, try to help; the arrival of an old friend, Chester, a giant plankton-eating whale shark, saves the day. As with the first two books, the full-page images of ocean flora and fauna and the exaggerated features of Kobee and friends engage the eye in a rich palette of acrylic colors, and the “Fun Facts” scrolls offer depth without denying the young audience a lively story. Most of the well-conceived morsels of information here, again contributed by oceanographer and documentarian Fabien Cousteau, identify species of fish. They include some that children might recognize—lionfish, sawfish, parrot fish—and others likely to be new to them. Among the unfamiliar denizens of the deep: a damselfish, peppermint basslet, spotted eagle ray, and blue-striped grunts, which Tess describes as looking “like lemons with blue lines swimming.” A link to Cousteau’s Ocean Learning Center is included for any reader interested in further exploration.

Review is for Book 3: Shipwreck Sea Friends

~ Kirkus Reviews

Foreword Reviews

Catherine Thureson

“This book will help children appreciate the ocean and the beauty and diversity of the world below the water’s surface.”

With lush, vibrant illustrations and appealing, friendly characters, Robert Scott Thayer’s Kobee Manatee: Shipwreck Sea Friends entertains young learners while educating them about the inhabitants of the Caribbean coral reefs.
Shipwreck Sea Friends is the third book about Kobee and his friends Tess and Pablo. In this installment, the three are headed off on a new adventure to explore the SS Antonio López, a Spanish ship that sank near Puerto Rico in 1898. On their way to the ship, the three learn about lots of interesting new creatures.

The story is lighthearted and full of adventurous spirit. Kobee, Tess, and Pablo are friendly and welcoming to everyone they meet, and they in turn are offered help by their new friends when they need it most. To complement the story, there is a section on each page devoted to “Kobee’s Fun Facts.”

Famed oceanographer Fabien Cousteau collaborated with the author on these notes to offer interesting information on sea life, such as the octopus: “Using pigments in its skin and muscles, the octopus can blend right into its surroundings!” Children will be entertained by the simple story while learning new information seamlessly and with pleasure.

Illustrations by Lauren Gallegos are a wonderful accompaniment to the story. The sea is depicted as a magical place full of color and movement. The characters and other sea creatures are brought to life with adorable images full of emotion. These are sure to appeal to all ages. The layout of the book works well, with an appropriate amount of text on each page for children ages four to eight, and a clear separation between the fictional story and the facts being shared.

Kobee Manatee: Shipwreck Sea Friends is a delightfully appealing book. Children will be drawn to the colors and images, and amused by the story of Kobee and his friends. Far more significantly, they will learn some important information that may help them to appreciate the ocean, and the beauty and diversity of the world beneath the water’s surface.

Review is for Book 3: Shipwreck Sea Friends

Fabien Cousteau, world-renowned oceanographic explorer, conservationist, and documentary filmmaker

“Kobee and his ocean pals are full of fun, adventure, and inspiration. They give the reader a better sense of the magic and mystery within our ocean world. Following them onto the historic wreck dive of the SS Antonio López off Puerto Rico, we learn all sorts of fascinating facts about wildlife and dangers, all while being entranced by the camaraderie of these fast friends. Even if one never gets a chance to ‘peek below the blue veneer’ of our planet, the adventures of Kobee and his aquatic mates are sure to make anyone appreciate how precious life is below the waves.”

– Fabien Cousteauworld-renowned oceanographic explorer, conservationist, and documentary filmmaker

Review is for Book 3: Shipwreck Sea Friends

Mom’s Choice Gold Award Recipient

Dawn Matheson, CEO, Mom’s Choice Awards

“We are happy to award deserving books like Kobee Manatee: Shipwreck Sea Friends. Our panel of judges really felt this special book merited a place on our list of the best in family-friendly products that parents and educators can feel confident in using.”

Review is for Book 3: Shipwreck Sea Friends