cover image Torch Fishing with the Sun

Torch Fishing with the Sun

Laura E. Williams, Fabricio Vanden Broeck. Boyds Mills Press, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-685-8

Williams (The Long Silk Strand) fashions an affectionate original folktale about a boy who inherits his grandfather's legacy of catching the sun so the men of their village can fish the Hawaiian seas at night. Young Makoa's grandfather launches out in his canoe every afternoon, explaining to Makoa that he must catch the sun and drag it over the edge of the sea so that the ""feeble flames"" of the torch fishers will ""attract fish to their spears."" Each day at dusk, the fishermen head out to sea, holding a torch in one hand and a spear in the other, to catch food for their families. Then one day, Makoa's friend tells him that the old man is a hoax. But Makoa chooses to heed his grandfather--""Sometimes you must believe in things you cannot see."" When Grandfather dies, he bequeaths his mission to Makoa. Williams spools her tale in timeless language (""A long time ago, when the wind had a name and the stars pointed the way"") and gentle metaphor (""With a sigh as soft as a plumeria petal, [Grandfather] closed his eyes for the last time"") as she strengthens the tie between elder and grandson. Vanden Broeck (Under the Breadfruit Tree) applies layers of tropical acrylics, setting spirited human gestures against sponge-textured skies and seas. The warmth of the Hawaiian backdrop and the intimacy between Makoa and his grandfather seem to flow out of the pages. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)