In its second Shakespearean board book, the team of Parekh and Amini (Behowl the Moon, 2017) adapts Ariel’s songs from The Tempest for a tale of two children discovering the wonders of an island world.
A boy and a girl, both with brown skin, meet on the beach of a fantastic island that hints at the Caribbean setting frequently discussed in Shakespeare scholarship. With their dog, the children see crabs, sea turtles, wild island birds, and—in a lovely two-page spread—a crowing rooster. Other vibrant creatures fill the final pages—an ape, an antlered form hidden in shadow, a three-toed sloth, and a red panda all exist in harmony while the children play. Shakespeare’s familiar words are just as complex in their vocabulary as parents are sure to remember. But for the very young lap readers intended as this reinvented story’s audience, the sounds of the words will be more important than their meanings (“Courtsied when you have and kiss’d / the wild waves whist”). Amini’s textured, mixed-media illustrations create a gorgeous paradise, filled with flowers and plants and a lack of Prospero or any other adult to disturb the children’s joy. The two kids will be easy for young readers to identify with, and their curious explorations should feel familiar to beachgoers.
A beach adventure pairs with the beautifully lyrical words of Ariel in this triumph of poetry and approachability.