In this picture book, a young city-dwelling boy wishes for a “real adventure,” like the ones his grandfather has had.
Eliot, playing on the sidewalk outside the apartment building where he lives with his mother, demonstrates a tremendous imagination. A paper sailboat in the street gutter becomes a high-seas adventure. A neighbor’s pet pug becomes a huge beast. And when Eliot’s grandfather, El Capitán, writes that he is “coming home” (signing his postcard, one of many reproduced on the front endpapers, “nos vemos pronto”), Eliot looks forward to having a real adventure. El Capitán arrives, and he and Eliot set out to find an adventure in the city. Author/illustrator Piedra’s digitally produced illustrations have the look of oils; they show a darker, muted palette as Eliot and El Capitán “stalk a paper dragon” in Chinatown and navigate a “plastic sea” (a clever double-page spread of a crowd of open umbrellas)—but Eliot, wanting a “real adventure,” asks to sail on the Hispaniola, El Capitán’s boat. But the boat, when El Capitán shows it to him, is old and damaged. Undaunted, Eliot puts his fertile imagination to work as the illustrations become more vividly hued. The ending double-page spread is joyous and brightly colored, affirming the vibrant power of the imagination. Eliot and his mother both have pale skin and dark hair and eyes; the bilingual, Spanish-speaking El Capitán has white hair and dark eyes.
Richly satisfying. (Picture book. 3-7)