cover image Mouseboat


Larissa Theule, illus. by Abigail Halpin. Viking, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-32735-7

With spare, heartfelt text, Theule invites readers into a narrating child’s deepest feelings about missing their deceased mother and finding a way to feel at home again after her death. As the child and their father, who read as East Asian, arrive at their home near water’s edge, the child suggests that their mother’s voice on the wind can’t be understood, and expresses a yearning (“The quilt you made smells like you.// ... Dad does everything different”). When emotional searching keeps sleep at bay, the child races out of the house to take the small craft labeled “Faye & Mama’s Mouseboat” out onto the water, despite an approaching storm. Adrift in the wind, spray, and thunder, a line reveals the previously missing presence (“You’re here!”), which gives way to the comforting, longed-for voice and reassuring words. Halpin’s crisp mixed-media art depicts a lush green woodland and brilliant blue water that shimmers, roils, laps, and crashes in dramatic scenes that mimic the child’s emotional journey. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)