A shy girl bonds with new friends through the wonders of imagination in this Canadian collaboration.
Ellie spends the summer with her grandmother at the beach. Too nervous to approach the other children, the young white girl keeps mostly to herself making sand castles and playing in the cool water until, while collecting pebbles, she happens upon Piper, an older girl of color who has a magic boat. Ellie is skeptical at first, but her doubts disappear as Piper takes them out to sea, racing on the water and surrounded by marine life. Moments later, the girls are flying as the boat turns into a balloon, and they share the sky with several birds and an intrepid ladybug. That is, until Nonna calls the pair to lunch. Pearson and Farris’ prose moves seamlessly from the easy unhurriedness of summer play to the weightier awe of discovery. Grimard keeps visual pace with warm watercolors and pencil-sketched shading and lines that feel light but never fluffy, capturing the dynamic fluidity between real and pretend. The illustrations do, at times, feel as though they are missing some elements mentioned in the text—the emphasis on discovery prompts readers to scour the pages for the wildlife being mentioned, for instance. But an overall and well-developed theme of imagination and connection (even when you’re nervous) far outweighs the small gaps.
Infectiously delightful. (Picture book. 4-7)