cover image Yellow Kayak

Yellow Kayak

Nina Laden, illus. by Melissa Castrillon. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0194-5

The team behind If I Had a Little Dream imagines a journey of ocean exploration as a boy and giraffe set off in a small wooden boat. Laden’s simple verse describes what they see as they push away from their island dock: “Fish jump./ Loons float./ Seals watch./ Little boat.” Castrillon’s sun-bleached pinks, aquas, and ochers recall faded lithographs; strands of kelp, twining octopus arms, and rolling water suggest the movement of currents and swells. Trouble threatens (“Yellow kayak./ Lightning streaks./ Thunder roars./ Sea wall leaks”), and the boy and giraffe teeter atop a breaking wave, closer to the sky than to the ocean. But the seas calm, and the next spread shows the boy emptying the boat of water as the sun sets, lighting the sky and waves a brilliant red: “Bail boat./ Good save.” They’re far from home, but help arrives from an unexpected source. Even with the excitement, Castrillon’s images convey an underlying tranquility that carries readers along with the explorers. It’s a voyage they’ll want to take again. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agency: Pickled Ink. (Jan.)