This is the story of Ali and his valiant journey to make his beloved great-grandmother’s dream come true.
The two of them lead a simple yet happy life in an unidentified desert (naming conventions and attire suggest the Arabian Peninsula). Their favorite pastime: savoring fresh dates picked from a neighboring century-old palm tree while contemplating the vastness of the night’s starry sky. Curious about his aging great-grandmother’s dreams, Ali realizes that one of them—seeing the ocean—remains unfulfilled. Complicating matters, her age and frail condition are such that she is unlikely to ever be able to make it all the way to the sea on her own. “Great-grandmother,” declares Ali, “I am going to seek the sea for you,” and off he goes, with nothing but water and a few dates for sustenance and a bucket in his hand to collect ocean water, hoping to make it through the four-day round trip and come back with a taste of the sea. Kids of all ages will readily identify with Ali’s manifest affection for and devotion to his grandma. Although adults might worry about the rather impulsive undertaking (reckless, some might say) involving inadequate preparation, frightening nights, and physical pain, children will thrill to Ali’s agency. Chabbert’s style of writing is on a par with Guridi’s minimalist, mixed-media illustrations, remarkably straightforward with no distracting lyricism.
Genuine. (Picture book. 4-7)