Moody illustrations in a marine palette will compel readers’ attention in this rhyming story set in 19th-century Cape Cod, about the year a girl spends without her father. Using rhyming couplets, Lendroth’s (Why Explore?
) narrator imagines her father’s progress as he sails to China on a trading mission: “I dream of silks in every hue/ and willowware of deepest blue.” She measures the passage of time in the growth of her baby brother and in the changing of seasons, and she also suffers. A December storm prompts fears “that somewhere in a howling gale/ my father battles sleet and hail.” In Allén’s American picture book debut, he channels the soft-edged realism and absorption with light shared by 19th-century American painters to create an atmosphere of foreboding. Muted gray-greens and dusky blues dominate; even the summer sky is cloudy. Children in the contemporary equivalent of the narrator’s situation—a son or daughter anxious about an absent parent’s well-being—will appreciate both the distance afforded by the period setting and the comfort of the melodic language and happy ending. Ages 5–7. (Aug.)