Jo must find the courage to set sail on the perilous sea when her father takes ill.
Jo’s dad is in charge of all the bottles containing messages thrown into the ocean; it’s his job to get each one “to the right home.” Jo longs to be an adventurer like her dad, but she is terrified of all the horrible creatures she imagines lurk in the ocean depths. When Jo’s dad gets sick and bottles start piling up, Jo is tasked with stepping in to deliver them in his place. Bravely she sets out, knees a-quaking, against a background filled with the repeated affirmation that “I can do this.” First Jo encounters a creature with “tentacles full of sticky suckers” (a large, green-eyed monster looms terrifyingly on the page and in her imagination)—that turns out to be a polite, bespectacled squid named Ira. She then sails into the maw of a scary beast—that turns out to be the cove of an island of friendly penguins. Time and again, Jo learns that no matter how scary a situation or how terrifying something may seem, it is probably not as bad as she imagines. The intricately painted, cinematic images are vividly bright, bringing in all the colors of the ocean. Gap-toothed Jo and her dad share the same brown skin and straight, black hair.
Facing your fears is rarely done with such beguiling whimsy. (Picture book. 3-5)