Beckmeyer’s first picture book takes readers on a circular journey around a mysterious island.
This parable, rendered in richly textured crayon, follows five friends who “wonder about the other side of the island” they dwell on, so they set out to paddle around to it. A failed landing leaves four friends, who try to cut through dense forest haunted by big cats, leaving three friends who build a long and precarious slide. Structures resembling roller coasters and Seattle’s Space Needle lure others to the island, and these newcomers carouse in party hats and develop it beyond recognition. At the end, one last friend tries, again, to find the wild side of the island, a venture that ends in a chaotic black scribble that leaves readers with far more questions than it answers. Every reader may come away from this curious and quiet book with a different message, and the deeper meanings are an intriguing challenge to parse. One might ask why the characters are dark pink, purple, orange, grayish-brown, and light pink and what their genders are. Who are they, and why are they on this island? In addition to the beautiful and skillful yet childlike illustrations, the text has a certain elegance, excellent pacing helping to carry readers through the exceptionally long picture book.
This daring approach to the picture book may find an audience of philosophical adults and children who take pleasure in the unusual. (Picture book. 5-9)