cover image Over the Ocean

Over the Ocean

Taro Gomi. Chronicle, $16.99 (36p) ISBN 978-1-4521-4515-0

A girl who stands at the ocean’s shore, her back to readers, doesn’t move one iota in this breezy story, first published in Japan in 1979 and rooted in a familiar question: “What is over the ocean?” The girl’s imagination makes repeated leaps across the sea as Gomi (Bus Stops) follows the question with a string of hypothetical answers and further questions, tacitly inviting readers to embellish the girl’s guesses with their own. Though none of the musings is outlandish (“Maybe there are big farms. Maybe there are cities over the ocean”), Gomi’s bold, woodblock-like pictures bring a visual whimsy to each setting. The bottom third of each spread remains static, showing the girl on a stretch of beach beneath a swath of turquoise water; above, however, is a shifting landscape of imagined scenarios, including striped and checkerboard skyscrapers, a tableau of kids zipping around on amusement-park rides, and a menagerie of stylized animals. Attentive readers can enjoy not just the explicit questions but ones raised by tiny details like the ocean liner slowly crossing the horizon or the hot-air balloon taking flight in the final scene. Ages 2–4. (May)