On an island “far to the north,” protagonist Tomo does not like to eat fish, nor does he plan to become a fisherman like the other men and boys of the village.
Black-haired Tomo loves to invent and build things. The only person who appreciates his inventions is his best friend and budding naturalist, Maya. One day while Grandfather naps, Tomo spies his great-grandfather’s fishing rod. Tomo knows he should leave it alone: “It’s legendary, it’s something no one ever touches––and it’s just what he needs” to make a mast for a boat. He grabs for it, misses, and accidentally knocks down his great-grandfather’s “Adventure Journal,” hidden behind a picture. It’s full of diagrams of inventions, and Tomo keeps it, using it to build a canoe that he and Maya paddle off in on an adventure. The digital illustrations are cheery but ambiguous: they give no clear sense of time or location. Village houses appear to be modern, as does the clothing both children and Grandfather wear, but many other characters wear clothing suggestive of a generic Pacific Northwest Indian theme, giving them a stereotyped feel. Further, the children are dressed in summer clothes even while on the open sea, whereas Grandfather is dressed for a colder climate, and other adults appear both bundled up and not, making the book’s chronology unclear.
Well-intentioned but inconsistent, the story starts off strong but loses steam. (Picture book. 4-8)