How It Feels to Be a Boat

James Kwan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-71533-2
Kwan (Dear Yeti) explores themes of weathering the unexpected and pushing on anyway in an allegorical story that excitedly informs readers, “You are a boat. Ahoy! Ahoy!” Though children may be at the helm of their vessels, the sailing isn’t always smooth. Rather than bring in an obvious storm metaphor, Kwan digs into internal conflicts, personified by the passengers occupying the “belly-rooms” of the boat: a cross-section reveals a busy baker, a brass band playing “your favorite doot-doot tune,” an octopus, superhero, and others. Sometimes they fight: “When they yell your belly aches, your heart shrinks, and your rooms shiver. You are strong, but sometimes you tremble.” After a crash leaves the boat in pieces, the passengers join forces to rebuild it and mend its broken “furnace-heart.” In shadowy mixed-media images, Kwan creates a cozy hybrid tugboat-paddleboat that feels distinctly kidlike in its proportions—its very quirkiness, along with its eccentric inhabitants, quietly suggests that we’re all a bit wonky and weird on the inside. A sophisticated allegory for the curveballs life lobs and the way we respond, it’s tailor-made for family conversations. Ages 4–7. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2017
Release date: 07/04/2017
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 40 pages - 978-1-328-81146-2
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