A boy finds joy, loss, healing, and love in the power of storytelling.
In cap and suspenders, Liam waves from a dock as his father sets sail across the opening endpages. Reunited, the two embrace before the burly sailor spins tales of his adventures in front of a crackling fire, as mermaids, treasures, and shark-infested waters swirl to life. But when his father sets out again and doesn’t return, Liam’s world turns gray and stories lose their pull, until an old traveler arrives with a magic beard who is able to weave words into pictures. Together, the two journey across the world, and Liam learns to really look and listen, and when the time comes for him to tell a story, he finds his father in stories told, in adventures taken, and in the weaving of words and sharing of stories. Fanciful illustrations are meticulously drawn, and the artist uses geometric shapes stylized to appear sculpted, reminiscent of a stop-motion animated picture. The cool, bright color palette is used to great effect as all turns gray to depict grief and loss, with color returning in the traveler’s stories and in their journey together. Skilled compositional designs showcase the flowing nature of the tales at sea and the traveler’s beard’s ability to hold the memory of adventure and become a metaphor for journey and growth. Liam and his father present white; the traveler has brown skin; Liam’s 19th-century seaside town is largely white but has a few residents of color.
Lambelet’s luscious, cinematic artwork will transport readers. (Picture book. 4-8)