Following Nighttime Ninja (2012), Young and DaCosta collaborate once again, this time infusing the sense and spirit of Moby-Dick (with a twist) into a picture book.
As the book opens, a crew of whalemen longs to be homeward bound, their combined voices echoing sea chanteys (in fact all the words in the story but one are taken from Melville’s novel). But the chase for Moby Dick is on, extending page after dramatic page…until the plug is pulled—literally—and readers realize that the story is an imaginative child’s bathtub adventure. Each double-page spread (most in a typical horizontal orientation, others an unexpected vertical) brings readers a fresh dose of nuance and meaning created by Young’s expert design and composition. The endpapers, which at first appear to be a random mottled tan and white, on closer inspection reveal possibly a negative image of sailing ships, or is it a whale’s hide seen very close up? This illustrative complexity rewards readers who look deeply, engaging both their perceptions and emotions. Off-kilter lines indicate unease and tension. The red face of the peg-legged captain intent on revenge visually screams his anger. A harpoon’s shocking pink line, at first glance incongruous, has a slant and color that reverberates against the cobalt blue of the water, creating a thrum of action. It all works.
Stunning illustrations and authentic words grace this unusually sophisticated picture book. (Picture book. 5-10)