Using the metaphor of a boat on a journey, this second-person story celebrates the richness and possibility of living.
A little boat (“You are a boat”) sets off on its journey. Inside its “belly-rooms” are its quirky inhabitants—personifications of the feelings, sensations, and potentials found in us all. There is (among others) the Chef, a white person in a toque who cooks up “sweet doughy smell[s],” the Big Brass Band who plays a “doot-doot tune,” Daniel, a boy who appears to be Asian and sings “lee lee lee doo,” and a gadget-loving Octopus. And what happens when they don’t get along? Well, the little boat crashes—shown in an effective wordless spread. But remember, author/illustrator Kwan tells readers in his second-person narration, “you are strong, and piece by crooked piece you are made.” The little boat is repaired by its inhabitants and continues: “You are crooked but you are strong. / You are a boat. / Ahoy, Ahoy!” This poignant yet lighthearted affirmation asserts the uniqueness of each individual and reassures readers that while life is complex, sometimes messy, and even occasionally catastrophic, it is all part of the journey.
While the topic may seem a bit mature or daunting for very young readers, the story has such quirky sparkle that even if readers don’t quite get its meaning, they will be delighted with its sense of playfulness. (Picture book. 3-8)