Cover Reveal: Narwhal’s Otter Friend by Ben Clanton



Ahoy, Ben Clanton! I’ve had a blast sharing the Narwhal and Jelly series with readers this summer. It always makes my heart smile when I get to sing “The Narwhal Song” with 200 enthusiastic educators.

Ben: Ahoy, John! Thank you so much for sharing Narwhal and Jelly. That is incredible! As is all you do to connect readers with books. I’m honored that you’ve made my books a part of your endeavors.

And I am honored you’re here today to reveal Narwhal's Otter Friend’s cover with me today. Thank you!


Narwhal’s Otter Friend’s cover was fun to make but also a challenge to come up with (IOW there were a lot of attempts!). I wanted the cover to fit with the previous titles but also to feel fresh. I also aimed to really highlight visually the rift between Narwhal and Jelly that the introduction of a new character, Otty, causes in Narwhal’s Otter Friend.  I owe the Tundra team for suggesting a brilliant way of accomplishing that goal by having Narwhal and Otty (both mammals) connecting above the water’s surface while Jelly is down below.


Cover Concepts 

The Narwhal and Jelly series is mainly about waffles. In other words, sweet and awesome things. Like imagination and friendship! As well as being inclusive, adventurous, and seeing / bringing out the superness in those around you. None of these were themes or topics I set out to explore when making the books. Those just happen to be the waters that Narwhal and Jelly swim in. I like swimming in those waters with them! And waffles!



Waffles are delicious and the favorite food of both Narwhal and Jelly. But I’m often asked by readers why waffles in particular when there are so many scrumptious things in this world. And that is because of ice cream. It was when I was standing in line for ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Seattle, WA that I first dreamt up Narwhal and Jelly. So why not ice cream as Narwhal and Jelly’s favorite food then?! Because it was the freshly made waffle cones at Molly Moon’s that I credit with inspiring me. I already had narwhals on my brain at the time because I had recently come across the book Polar Obsession by Paul Nicklen. The waffle cones reminded me of a narwhal’s long horn-like tooth. And it suddenly struck me . . . if I am to make a book about a narwhal that narwhal should be as delightful and special as the smell and taste of waffle cones and ice cream. Admittedly, Narwhal would likely love ice cream (Narwhal has quite the sweet tooth . . . a rather long and pointy one), but waffles felt more unique to me as a choice for a favorite food. That fits with how I see narwhals: unique and fantastic. They look like a made-up creature but they are real. And just like waffles this world is better with them in it!


Narwhal’s tusk tooth looks a lot like a magical horn, especially with how it juts out of Narwhal’s forehead instead of the upper lip (where a real narwhal’s tusk is located). I’ll confess that my drawings aren’t exactly scientifically accurate . . . But I do like to include at least a couple of nonfiction pages in each N&J book!


Did you know that narwhals have two teeth? And that while it is usually just the males that have the tusk that sometimes female narwhals do too?


MerryMakers has made some super awesome Narwhal and Jelly finger puppets / dolls. And more is in the works with them! For quite a few years I have daydreamed about someday working with MerryMakers and seeing my characters in a soft and huggable form. It’s absolutely mind-blowing for me that it has happened!



Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about sharks. Though you weren’t to know that I’ve been a bit shark obsessed lately. ;) I’ve been reading and watching a lot about them recently. Eventually I need to do a Narwhal and Jelly book that features sharks. Just need to come up with the right idea! One thing I know for shark about any shark book I make is that I won’t villainize them. Sharks get a bad rap in movies and in books far too often. Did you know that humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks per year while sharks kill about 6 humans a year? But so as not to end things on that downer of a note (as important as it is!) I’ve got a couple fun facts for you about one of my otter favorite sea creatures. Did you know that sea otters will hold paws when sleeping to keep from floating apart when in the water? Or that they have a favorite rock they use as a tool and that they keep in a fold of skin in their armpit? It is a weird and waterful world we live in!  


Look for Narwhal's Otter Friend on February 5, 2019. 

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