Yellow Kayak

by Nina Laden (Author) Melissa Castrillon (Illustrator)

Yellow Kayak
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
A child and his beloved best friend go on a grand sea adventure in this magical picture book by the author and artist who created If I Had a Little Dream.

You just never know what a new day will hold if you are brave enough to find out. On one quiet afternoon, a boy and his special friend's unexpected adventure bring joy and excitement and sights never imagined. And the best part of any adventure is returning home with stories to tell and you best friend at your side.

School Library Journal

PreS-K--A child in a red-and-white striped shirt and a giraffe with red spots set off in a kayak. Their journey is presented in four-line verses that rhyme. The narration is generally third person ("Yellow kayak./Lightning streaks./Thunder roars./Sea wall leaks."), although Laden occasionally mixes voices midstream, presumably to preserve the iambic flow and brevity: "Rain stops./Be brave./Bail boat./Good save." The brave little sailor and his oarsman remain a calm comfort to one another. Their 48-hour adventure offers viewers a glimpse at a variety of swirling underwater life from salmon and squid to otters and octopuses. A second threat from a school of whales is quickly resolved. The compositions, rendered in pencil and digitally colored, are dominated by blue-greens and pinks with touches of other colors, particularly golden yellow. Castrillon has an apparent fondness for scrollwork, a predilection that lends many of her scenes a folk-art flavor, a sense of the decorative also seen in her first collaboration with Laden, If I Had a Little Dream. Some may find certain scenes overly ornamental, as on a page with mixed perspective in which the kayak and a seagull are viewed from above, while the clouds and a curtain of arabesques seem to be placed head-on. Those who prefer more active protagonists will need to look elsewhere. VERDICT The visual and aural rhythms of this circular voyage are probably best suited to sleepy snugglers.--Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

The team behind If I Had a Little Dream imagines a journey of ocean exploration as a boy and giraffe set off in a small wooden boat. Laden's simple verse describes what they see as they push away from their island dock: "Fish jump./ Loons float./ Seals watch./ Little boat." Castrillon's sun-bleached pinks, aquas, and ochers recall faded lithographs; strands of kelp, twining octopus arms, and rolling water suggest the movement of currents and swells. Trouble threatens ("Yellow kayak./ Lightning streaks./ Thunder roars./ Sea wall leaks"), and the boy and giraffe teeter atop a breaking wave, closer to the sky than to the ocean. But the seas calm, and the next spread shows the boy emptying the boat of water as the sun sets, lighting the sky and waves a brilliant red: "Bail boat./ Good save." They're far from home, but help arrives from an unexpected source. Even with the excitement, Castrillon's images convey an underlying tranquility that carries readers along with the explorers. It's a voyage they'll want to take again. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator's agency: Pickled Ink. (Jan.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A gentle story of calm courage and of quiet, trusting perseverance that will comfort readers in their anxious times." — Kirkus —Kirkus Reviews "October 15, 2017 "
Nina Laden
Nina Laden is an award-winning, bestselling children's book author and illustrator. She grew up in the New York City area, the daughter of two artists, and received a BFA from Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts. She has over a dozen books in print including Peek-A Who?, The Night I Followed the Dog, When Pigasso Met Mootisse, and Roberto: The Insect Architect.

Renata Liwska has been drawing for as long as she can remember. Her old schoolbooks overflowed with sketches, and the children's book illustrations she creates today are influenced by memories from her childhood. She is the illustrator of the New York Times bestsellers The Quiet Book and The Loud Book!, and she is the author and illustrator of Little Panda and The Red Wagon. Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Renata now lives in Calgary.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2018

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