SPRAY by Robert J. Blake


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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 Unhappy as a newcomer on Martha's Vineyard, Justin sets out to sea in his sailing dory, dreaming of his hero, Captain Slocum, who became the first man to sail around the world in 1898. When Justin capsizes, a firm hand pulls him out of the sea and he finds himself aboard the battered sloop, Spray, with Captain Slocum at the helm. The two embark on a fantastic journey until Justin is ready to make his way home. Blake's glowing oil paintings capture the sweep of the sea in double-page spreads showing towering rigging, a slashing storm, a sparkling night sky, and all the details that comprise a sailing ship: wood planking, coiled rope, complicated pulleys. Captain Slocum is ably characterized, a terse loner who insists that Justin must earn his turn at the wheel. The make-believe, however, is somewhat diffuse: It's not clear whether Justin is dumped overboard before or as part of his musings (if it's before, children may worry about his rescue) and the fantasy becomes multilayered, as Slocum retreats and other ghostly players take over. A spelling error (buoy is spelled ``bouy'') and the sailing terms used in clipped dialogue will leave some readers in Justin's wake. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19th, 1996
ISBN: 0-399-22770-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1996


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