Sís takes readers on a journey to a Slumberland-esque island that reinforces the joys of storytelling and would make Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo proud.
In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, the author pays homage to his literary forbears and allows readers to experience the seductive imaginative power that enables readers to disappear into and embody the stories they love. The protagonist—based on Sís himself—and his friends (a multiethnic group) love nothing more than playing at being pirates. When their school hosts a costume contest, the white boy’s mother convinces him to dress as Robinson Crusoe, his favorite hero, instead of a pirate. Like Michael Ende’s Bastian Balthazar Bux, the boy is teased for daring to be different and escapes into his imagination to find courage and adventure. As the sepia tones of the real world give way to the luxuriant, water-colored dreamscape, readers will lose themselves in the lush greens of the trees used to build the protagonist’s forest home and long to swim in the deep blue water swirling around the island paradise (populated only by friendly animals—no Man Friday here). Experimentation in different artistic styles further enhances the creativity and otherworldly quality of Sís’ landscape. The author’s note at the end also proves delightful.
An enchanting love letter to the magic of childhood and the fertile relationship between good literature and young readers’ imaginations. (Picture book. 4-8)