Rebecca Young, Author
Matt Ottley, Illustrator
Dial Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Oct. 4, 2016
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes: Leaving Home, Sea, Immigrant, Hope
Opening: Once there was a boy who had to leave his home…and find another.
Synopsis: A boy has to leave his home and sets off on a journey into the unknown with a backpack, a book, a bottle, a blanket and a teacup filled with the earth from his homeland. His life at sea changes daily. Some days the sea is gentle and other days it is rough and unforgiving. Some days the light is bright and some nights are so dark he wishes to see the stars. He listens to the call of the whales and watches changing cloud formations. One day a sprout appears in his teacup. It grows into a tree that gives him shelter, apples to eat and branches to climb so he can search the horizon for land. The boy finally finds land and he makes it home. He is alone, until…
Why I like this book:
Rebecca Young has written an inspiring and timely tale with spare text, allowing readers to use their imaginations. The language is poetic and hints at the mystery and wonder of the boy’s journey. She doesn’t say why the boy has to leave his home, which leaves this book open for age-appropriate discussions about the reasons people leave their homes. The fact that the boy has to leave his home, makes readers wonder if the boy is an immigrant or refugee. Perhaps he is pursuing a dream. There are many possibilities. This story can also be used to discuss topics like moving, separation, divorce, and homelessness. This is book for all ages and the perfect bedtime story. The conclusion is very satisfying and hopeful. Matt Ottley’s oil paintings are luminous and show the light and darkness, the loneliness and joy of the boy’s journey.
Resources: This is an excellent discussion book for home and school. Why did the boy leave his home? Ask children to identify reasons. How did the boy feel sailing in the small rowboat on the endless ocean? How would they feel sailing in a rowboat on the sea? Encourage them to use their imaginations and make up a short story or draw a picture about their ideas.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.