Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat

Philip Christian Stead. Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-562-9
"You're getting too old for a stuffed animal," young Jonathan's parents tell him. "So we traded your bear for a toaster." Jonathan doesn't argue; instead, he drifts down to the wharf to visit the Big Blue Boat he admires. Suddenly he has a plan; with the turn of a page the boat is "steaming like a tea kettle," and Jonathan is off to search the world for his bear, Frederick. Children crave the power to control their own lives, and Jonathan's adventure offers just that. Animal friends join the crew when there's trouble; pirates attack, but they're not too scary. Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee) uses squiggly ink lines and washes of warm color against a background of collaged newsprint, charts, and stamps that underscore the nautical theme and distance traveled. Frederick shows up at the end in the nicest possible way, and Jonathan's slow, reflective journey—filled with pitch-perfect details, sound effects, and vocabulary ("Full steam ahead," "marooned," a cannon's "ker-blammm!!!")—offers a lovely, gentle adventure for younger readers. Ages 4–8. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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