[Reviewed from Copy Courtesy of Beach Lane Books]
The Antlered Ship, with its elegant, intricate, and bewitching illustrations, is an extraordinary and inspiring picture book. Slaters’ precise and sensitive storytelling paired with The Fan Brother’s spellbinding and breathtaking artwork gives us a completely captivating experience.
Our protagonist, Marco, is a thoughtful and profoundly curious fox. He possesses a compelling need to find answers to some very important questions, but the other foxes are much more interested in immediate and pressing matters – like dinner. And, really, can you blame them?
One day Marco spies a ship arriving. He goes down to the harbor to see them and discovers that they are lost and are looking for a crew. Marco immediately volunteers to join them. Maybe this ship will take him to a place where there are foxes who know answers to his questions? A pigeon and his crew also join and together they begin their quest.
But the journey is difficult and long. There are storms, crew members find things much more difficult than they ever anticipated and give up, while others simply worry and wait for something bad to happen. The crew is full of regret that they ever left the safety and security of home. Their outlook is bleak.
Then Marco finds a cookbook. He makes a stew for his shipmates – and once bellies are full and moods are lifted – he proposes that everyone looks at the charts once more.
The crew decides to venture to an island and the winds change in their favor. They encounter the Maze of Sharp Rocks, but the pigeons help them successfully navigate through. Pirates come and demand all of their treasure, but they successfully fend them off.
The crew finally makes it to the island, but there are no foxes there to answer Marco’s questions. He feels like a failure and talks with Sylvia, the ships’s captain, and Victor, the pigeon, about the questions he needs answered. Sylvia listens to him and responds to one of Marco’s questions about friendship in a most profound, grounding, and humbling way.
They then decide that it isn’t quite time to go home, that there are more questions and answers to discover, and they seek out on a new adventure.
For those who still have the energy and awe to ask quixotic questions, The Antlered Ship beckons them to ask even more questions and shows them a world of possibilities that awaits those who seek.
For those with a little less energy and a little more weariness and anxiety, The Antlered Ship is a reminder that questions take us on new voyages, sometimes fraught with peril and sometimes not, but they definitely open up new possibilities and can give us incredible answers.
This stunning picture book gently asks us if we might spare the time and again be willing to take risks and seek out answers that we may never find. And if, perhaps, that is asking too much, maybe we as adults might slow down and help others who still have the heart and courage to ask questions.
Reading The Antlered Ship with children is an immeasurable joy. My children immediately connected with the characters and especially identified with all of Marco’s questions. They were mesmerized as the characters were in peril during a storm. They laughed at the subtle humor, wondered out-loud if they would find treasure on the island, worried as they navigated through sharp rocks, cheered and bounced when they won their battle against the pirates, and were in complete awe as they headed off for another adventure. They asked a countless number of exasperating and impossible questions themselves. Then they begged for me to read it to them again, and again, and again.
Recommended Ages 4 to 7. Beach Lane Books. September 2017. 48 pages. ISBN: 978-1481451604. Fiction.
Where to Get it:
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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