Spray

Robert J. Blake, Author
Robert J. Blake, Author Philomel Books $15.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-399-22770-7
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A boy's dramatic trip on the high seas anchors this picture-book fantasy by the illustrator of Riptide. Justin, a Maine native, has trouble adjusting to his new home on Martha's Vineyard. He takes solace in sailing his small craft away from it all. On one such outing, Justin's daydreams collide with some rough weather and he capsizes, only to be ""rescued"" by the ghost of a famous old seaman, Joshua Slocum. The gruff and crusty Slocum tosses out scraps of sailing knowledge to first mate Justin-tips that come in handy when Slocum's boat, Spray, must outrun a pirate ship. Blake's event-filled plot and suspenseful pacing treat readers to a thrilling ride. However, the muddy line between imagination and reality may leave some youngsters scratching their heads. Blake's sweeping oil paintings capture the action of unfurling sails and the high speed chase, as well as quieter moments, like charting a course by the stars, all from a variety of ship deck and on-the-water perspectives. Purples, blues and blacks work well to convey the power and expanse of both sea and sky, and tense expressions on all the characters' faces clearly indicate the perilous excitement of Justin's adventure. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
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