cover image Sail Away, Little Boat

Sail Away, Little Boat

Janet Buell, , illus. by Jui Ishida. . Lerner/Carolrhoda, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57505-821-4

In a lush green forest, a boy and girl launch a toy sailboat in a rushing brook and wish it bon voyage: "Sail away, Little Boat,/ to search for new friends./ Just follow the brook./ till it reaches its end." As the boat travels through ecosystems and ever-deepening water (the water's color changes from brown to green to blue), it catches the attention of an array of animals, including a goggle-eye dragonfly and a "slicky-back" otter (the latter temporarily adopts the boat as a plaything). Finally, the boat's "long, daring journey" ends at "the cool oceanside," where a group of beachcombing children pluck it from shallow waters. Despite the alliterative language, Buell's text at times seems overwrought ("Past a long-legged heron/ that pokes with its beak./ Past sun-speckled fish/ flashing by at its feet"), but Ishida's (Yummy Chocolate Bunny ) voluptuous, dynamic full-bleed illustrations more than compensate. The artist's dense, smudged colors and cheery, streamlined characterizations may bring to mind classic Golden Books, while her strongly horizontal compositions feel bracing and bold—every spread conveys the energy of the water coursing inexorably through the landscape. Ages 5-7. (Mar.)