An anthropomorphized young elephant goes to sea and makes a friend in this wordless picture book.
Woodrow, a young elephant dressed in a red T-shirt and gray shorts, paddles off in a small boat from his island home (cleverly steadying his telescope with his trunk). Because Edwards tells the story through the pictures exclusively, readers are left the space to imagine why Woodrow is setting off on his adventure—an invitation that continues throughout the story. After Woodrow rescues a marooned, compass-carrying mouse, the two set off for the mouse’s home on a different island. They have adventures, including a stormy rescue of Woodrow by the mouse and friendly sea creatures, and in calmer seas, they sing. The visual literacy here is notably creative. The mouse sings pink notes, Woodrow sings blue notes, and half-pink, half-blue notes extol their duet. Edwards’ watercolor-and-ink illustrations are deceptively simple without fancy visual angles or digital effects—but it is this simplicity that creates and supports the story’s authentic, heartfelt ingenuousness. A lively, intelligent variation of full-page illustrations, double-page spreads, and spot vignettes keeps the pace active. At the story’s end, the mouse is warmly welcomed home, they exchange compass and telescope (binding friendship), and Woodrow travels back to his own family.
A story of adventure and friendship without the boundaries of words, which becomes more personal and satisfying as a consequence. (Picture book. 2-8)