In this illustrated, rhyming children’s book, a girl uses a set of keys to unlock a series of exciting journeys.
“Let’s go on a brave adventure!” begins this cheerful book, which symbolizes the concept with a ring of five old-fashioned keys in different colors. The narrator tells a girl with auburn braids, striped stockings, and rain boots—who’s apparently ready for anything—that she has the power to choose among several different adventures, including floating down the Nile River, crossing the Sahara Desert, swimming across the ocean, and searching for treasure. But the book also suggests undertakings that are closer to home (such as dancing, singing, and pursuing other activities with friends) and quieter ones that are just as exciting: writing a poem, flying a kite, painting pictures. In the end, the narrator notes that whatever call to adventure one answers, “the splendor of being YOU is the bravest adventure of all!” In her debut, Coons’ rhymes scan well, for the most part. She nicely handles the movement from grand exploration to quiet inner soundings, and readers will believe her overall message that all types of adventures are exciting. Coons’ (The Scholars of Mantua, 2016, etc.) colorful illustrations are a great help in telling the story, showing the girl right in the middle of her various outings and helping spark young readers’ interest in trying new things. The charming, complex images are also packed with repeated motifs, such as keys, star charts, and feathers; children will enjoy recognizing and discovering these details, which highlight the book’s sense of playfulness. They also draw thoughtful connections; for example, the line “Dance YOUR Dance” is accompanied by a ballerina taking a bow on an elaborate stage, while a page about finding adventure “in the SMALLEST of things” shows a diagram of a key with a Leonardo da Vinci–like manuscript page in the background, covered in tiny script. Such references to stages and great artists tie in nicely with the overall theme of a little girl bravely venturing forth in her life. However, apart from some silhouetted and masked figures, the book depicts only the girl as a character, which lessens its overall diversity.
A delightful, well-thought-out tale that should appeal to young readers who are eager to explore.