cover image Ship Ahoy!

Ship Ahoy!

Peter Sis. Greenwillow Books, $14.95 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16644-1

A couch metamorphoses into a series of seaworthy vessels as a boy imagines himself sailing over the waters of a small blue rug. Much of the charm of this wordless, nearly monochromatic book lies in the play between the similarities and differences in the two illustrations on each spread. On the left, the boy sits on the couch with various props, positioned to suggest the oar of a canoe, the mast of a sailing ship or the periscope of a submarine. The right shows the imagined scene as the boy steers a raft or commands a huge ocean liner. While the left-hand scene is rendered with dark, broad lines (so broad that it's hard to tell exactly what the boy's props are), the imagined scene is more finely drawn and modulated with blue watercolor wash. The vessels become more elaborate as the boy's fantasy life confidently expands, until the sudden appearance of a huge colorful sea monster (in a three-panel fold-out spread) dwarfs him on a vulnerable raft. The monster turns out to be his mother's vacuum cleaner, and in the final image, mother and son read about boats while sitting on the rug--now just a rug. Tender and inviting, this well-conceived book speaks to kids' twin needs for familiarity and adventure. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)