A white child and a giraffe encounter danger and adventure in a small boat on the high seas.
A small child and a giraffe set off in a “kayak” (although the illustrations show the boat as a plank-framed, double-ended craft rather than what readers may think of as a kayak) for an unspecified destination, but readers get the idea that it’s meant to be merely a day trip. Then a sudden squall appears. The waves build, the paddle is lost, night descends, and the child and the giraffe snuggle together. Morning brings help in the arrival of sea creatures who return the paddle (and the child’s lost hat), but another crisis seems imminent when huge whales surround the little boat; however, the whales turn out to be rescuers, gently prodding the boat toward shore. Author Laden’s theme of calm courage, perseverance, and trust in the face of unforeseen difficulties is presented in an evocative, spare, rhyming format of four simple two-word lines per scene. Illustrator Castrillon’s decorative, full-of-heart illustrations (done in pencil with digital colorization) are well-matched to the text: their stylized imagery, muted colors on off-white paper, and occasional deliberate off-registration give them an antique chromolithography look that enhances the tale’s nostalgic, timeless feel.
A gentle story of calm courage and of quiet, trusting perseverance that will comfort readers in their anxious times. (Picture book. 3-8)