cover image AN ISLAND IN THE SUN


Stella Blackstone, , illus. by Nicoletta Ceccoli. . Barefoot, $15.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-1-84148-193-7

Stylized in an otherworldly manner, Italian illustrator Ceccoli's English-language debut begins as a boy sets sail for a tiny island. "I spy with my little eye a bird flying by" reads the accompanying text, , the type curving across the skies of the double-page spreads as if tossed by the ocean breeze. The locks of the boy's hair, an aqueous blue, undulate like the tentacles of a sea urchin, as do the rays of the smiling, rosy-cheeked sun, the tail feathers of birds and the branches of trees. Blackstone (Cleo the Cat) enlarges the sentence of text with each page, until: "I spy with my little eye someone waiting for me on a beach beside the sea/ and a big tangly tree on an island close to me." The "someone" turns out to be a blue dog, and the island looks as if it's made of plasticine, with cheerful, lumpy vegetation and an assortment of sea creatures distributed carefully over its smooth surface. After an afternoon of fishing, the dog and the boy nap in the sun, near a plate full of fish bones. The last spread shows boy and dog sailing together for home under lavender skies and a watchful blue crescent moon. Paired with the incantatory quality of the verse, the off-center illustrations leave readers with the pleasantly hazy sensation of having spent a long day at the beach. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)