In this picture book, an adventurous girl and her crew of orphaned boys sail the high seas and intercept a band of pirates kidnapping tortoises.
Told in haiku, Lorayne’s debut picture book, with illustrations by Watson, introduces readers to Tilly, a girl with a courageous spirit and patched jeans who sails around the world on the Foster with her crew of orphaned boys. Together with Yuki, a koala Tilly rescued from Australia, they use a compass and star chart to explore the ocean, all while cataloging, sketching, and studying what they find, including whales, birds, and other sea life. All is calm until they head to the Galapagos Islands and spy pirates kidnapping baby giant tortoises. The crew of the Foster doesn’t hesitate to act and steal onto the pirates’ ship to right the wrong. Lorayne has written a thoughtful take on the pirate genre, with a female-led crew focused on science and discovery. There’s a strong awareness of ecology, though the text also still works as an adventure. The seamlessly incorporated haiku also work well, serving as an appreciable introduction to the poetic form for young readers. In addition to being lovely poems, the haiku clearly explain the moment. For instance, “Just off the port side / Magnificence of the sea / Humpback whales surface.” With such little text, Watson’s artwork has ample space on the page to help illustrate what’s happening. The beautiful watercolors feature rich colors and intricate details. Some of the vocabulary and references, such as one to Darwin, could be challenging for young readers, so the story offers plenty of opportunities for further investigation in the classroom or at home.
Tells a thoughtful, eco-conscious story with a strong female lead, ideal for kids interested in poetry and adventure.