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 LibraryCopyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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.