South American artist Sanabria offers a picture book about a ship and so much more.
The story is broken up into three parts. In the first, watercolor-and-ink illustrations that evoke Maira Kalman’s style invite close inspection of a luxury liner “with very important people on board.” The deck of the ship dominates the opening double-page spread, and people in fancy clothes mill about. But a page turn reveals that “as time went by, the ship was sold to a merchant,” and its days of luxury are gone when it finally ends up “abandoned.” The second section depicts a similar downward spiral in the life of a wealthy family that loses its material wealth and ends up living in a village with other poor people until a powerful man tells them all to leave. In Part 3, the displaced people find the abandoned ship, and “with the help of a man who had loved the sea since he was a boy and knew a lot,” they fix it up so it can sail again and provide a new home for all. The careful, elegiac text uses the phrase “as time went by” as a leitmotif; though it may seem to imply inevitability, it also allows for intentional change. Careful readers will note that this man was depicted as a boy with a toy ship on the title page, and he appears in the first two parts of the picture book, as well.
A lovely, rich book to spend time with. (Picture book. 4-8)