cover image The Long Island

The Long Island

Drew Beckmeyer. Chronicle, $17.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-4521-5485-5

Beckmeyer’s auspicious debut imagines a group of humans living on one side of a long, narrow island. The far side of the island, “the one nobody had ever seen,” is guarded by forbidding rocks and lush vegetation “too dense to cut through.” Working in crayon, Beckmeyer draws the island and its tropical greenery on heavily toothed paper, giving the spreads a bright, rough feel. His indigenous islanders are simple silhouettes with no features or clothing; some are rust-colored, others gray or blue. Consumed with desire to reach the island’s far side, they construct a gigantic slide, lashing together lengths of wood and hoisting them skyward; a side-on view of the island shows a towering pole with three tiny figures on top. Once they reach the inaccessible side of the island, they have a new problem: they can’t get back. After more ambitious building, they discover that they’ve attracted outsiders who spoil the island they love. With a sharp eye, Beckmeyer shows how easy it is for paradise to tip into ruin. Rich discussions will arise after reading. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)