CLEO by Sassafras De Bruyn


Age Range: 5 - 7
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This Dutch-to-English translation relates a tale of a lonesome girl who fantasizes a journey into the sea and the sky.

When your only best friend is your black cat, Amadeus, life is lonely. Narrating in the present tense, Cleo packs her things and sails off with Amadeus toward the horizon, where she sees a spectacular show every day. At nighttime, an unnamed boy appears and then sails with her to the mermaid caves, where they dance and celebrate. Sailing on, they face fierce storms and sea monsters, prevailing because they are “incredibly brave!” When they are tired after telling stories, they nap on a “heavenly bed” where the clouds “taste like whipped cream.” The adventure (or is it a daydream?) ends with Cleo and the boy sitting on a bench in a (seemingly mundane) schoolyard. The illustrations are smudgily quirky, with an appropriately mystical effect. Cleo is depicted as a blonde, white girl in a yellow dress, with large, black-framed, circular glasses dominating her face; her black-haired companion is similarly pale. In a clever touch, Amadeus appears throughout (except for the last spread). Capitalized display type emphasizes key words. Though the story is not without Peter Pan–ish charm, the shift from imaginary to real is abrupt, even puzzling.

In comparison with other fanciful journeys, this has moderate appeal, mostly due to the interesting illustrations. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-60537-263-1
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Clavis
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2016


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