In a book that combines short, poetic sentences with dramatic visual art, a light-skinned boy, needing a new home, sets off to sea in a rowboat.
As the boy begins his odyssey, his knapsack contains only “a book, a bottle, and a blanket. In his teacup he held some earth from where he used to play.” Vast expanses of sea and sky are conveyed both in monumental oil paintings and by the white or colored negative space of some double-page spreads. The text and artwork complement each other to produce a journey that combines elements of reality and dreamlike images. The palette ranges from pale to vibrant, and details are striking—the boy’s lengthening hair, sun dappling a birch. Ominous clouds never become horrific; hardships such as hunger are not addressed. The rhythm of the text, as well as its gentle alliterations and occasional rhymes, makes it an excellent bedtime read-aloud. There is poignancy—and mystery—in “how things can change with a whisper.” Why did the boy leave his beloved home? Readers are never told, making this book a potent discussion starter. The care given to both art and text elevate the simplicity of the life-is-a-journey-fraught-with-uncertainty message. The delightful results of his determination to hold onto his soil-filled teacup and an unexpectedly sweet ending add to that message the notion that those who strive and dream will eventually thrive.
Enchanting, beautiful, and full of hope. (Picture book. 3-8)