The Wanderer

by Peter Van Den Ende (Author)

The Wanderer
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

As with Shaun Tan's The Arrival, it gives us collective goosebumps to introduce the singular talent and imagination of Peter Van den Ende to North America. Without a word, and with Escher-like precision, Van den Ende presents one little paper boat's journey across the ocean, past reefs and between icebergs, through schools of fish, swaying water plants, and terrifying sea monsters. The little boat is all alone, and while its aloneness gives it the chance to wonder at the fairy-tale world above and below the waves uninterrupted, that also means it must save itself when it storms. And so it does.

We hope that readers young and old will find the strength and inspiration that we did in this quietly powerful story about growing, learning, and life's ups and downs.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

As the boat fades away, a human figure materializes, adorned with images from the voyage—including the paper boat. As the figure encounters another at the doorway, readers are left to their own conjurations. Marvelously engrossing—a triumph. (map) (Picture book. 6-12).

Copyright 2020 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Dutch artist Van den Ende follows a mysterious paper boat on a surreal, at times oppressive-feeling journey across the world's oceans. Wordless, closely worked black-and-white spreads conjure an alternative Earth whose reefs hold strange life-forms. The paper boat--it's as tall as a person (or are the people as small as the boat?)--is folded and launched from a galleon by a fair-haired human and a horned, caped figure. On its voyage, the paper craft encounters monstrous sea creatures, icebergs, murky depths illuminated by sea life, and more. Approaching a drilling rig that pumps poison into the air, it takes a bullet while sea birds drop out of the sky, dead. The black caped figure and attendant bright-eyed creatures intervene. At last, the paper boat arrives at the harbor of a surreal port city, where a final reunion leaves still another mystery. Charged with a current of imaginative power, Van den Ende's artwork, like an Escher drawing leaning into oceanic and naval architecture, results in a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sensibility and an unsettling blend of warm nostalgia and chilly futurism. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Marvelously engrossing-a triumph." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful, Peter Van den Ende's Wanderer is an epic dream captured in superbly meticulous detail."—Shaun Tan

Peter Van Den Ende
Peter Van den Ende is an artist and illustrator based in Belgium. Previously he worked as a nature guide in the Cayman Islands. The beauty of the sea was his source of inspiration for his wondrous and wordless debut picture book, The Wanderer--A Society of Illustrators, Dilys Evans Founder's Award Winner and named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2020