Off & Away

Cale Atkinson. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4847-8232-3
Jo’s brawny, tattooed father operates the clearinghouse for all the bottles that have messages in them. The bottles float to Jo’s ship-shaped shanty, and her dad sails around the world making sure “every bottle got to the right home.” When Dad gets a bad cold, Jo has to overcome her deepest fear—she’s convinced the ocean is filled with monsters—and take on the delivery duties. Along the way, she discovers that the ocean is actually full of inhabitants (human and otherwise) who just want connection with the outside world; even the seemingly scariest monster in the remotest corner of the ocean is a real sweetheart who’s grateful for company. Gap-toothed Jo’s determination and doughtiness are certainly appealing, but it’s Atkinson’s (Where Oliver Fits) settings and secondary characters that are the real standouts. The expansive skies shimmer in unearthly tones of red and green, and elaborately rendered creatures sprawl from margin to margin, demonstrating imaginative worldbuilding in full sail. Ages 4–7. Agent: Nicole Tugeau, Tugeau 2. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2018
Release date: 06/05/2018
Genre: Children's
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