cover image Billy Lazroe and the King of the Sea: A Tale of the Northwest

Billy Lazroe and the King of the Sea: A Tale of the Northwest

Eric A. Kimmel, Author, Michael Steirnagle, Illustrator Browndeer Press $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-15-200108-7

The prolific Kimmel (see also One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes, reviewed above) lets the creative juices flow in his Oregonian version of an old Russian seafaring tale. As always, the storytelling is tight, but this tale is awash in moodiness and detail so convincing that readers can almost smell the saltwater. The sailor Billy Lazroe, who ""arrived in the world with salt water in his veins,"" is commanded by Davy Jones, the King of the Sea, to play the concertina for the unfortunate souls in his locker. Lazroe resists for seven years, but is finally compelled to visit. There, beneath the sea, he wins the hand of Davy Jones's beautiful daughter, only to lose her in an Orpheus-like moment. In his debut, Steirnagle mirrors the shivery qualities of the tale with dark, smoky, moody pastels and effectively uneasy, off-balance compositions. His subtly mystical illustrations plus Kimmel's evocative language add up to a pleasantly hair-raising read-aloud. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)