Friday, August 5, 2011


Written by Randall de Sève

Illustrated by Loren Long

(Philomel Books, 2007)

This story is basically a variation on Dorothy’s statement, “There’s no place like home.”

Instead of a tornado, it is a storm that separates a character from the ho-hum comforts of home.

The character is a boat, one pieced together from “a can, a cork, a yellow pencil, and some white cloth” by a boy who adores the little toy. While content, the boat has moments of wanderlust. The storm brings on a case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for.

At sea, toy boat encounters a tugboat, a ferry and other vessels, each imploring the bitty boat to “Move along!” In Loren Long’s glorious illustrations, the watercraft take on human faces, the eyes being what young readers notice most. There is a desolate, yet breathtaking double page spread where the toy boat, sails sagging, floats alone in a sea swell as the moon cries. Another exquisite illustration depicts the boy and the boat, reunited on a dock as the sun sets.

It’s an endearing story, able told by de Sève, but this book is an example of art not just complementing the text but wholly overshadowing it. Loren Long is one the most talented children’s illustrators today.

Boys will enjoy gazing at all sorts of boats in the book. Adults will simply pause to take in the beauty.

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