I had to read it twice. I wasn’t in the right mindset at first and I found myself getting lost in the lyrical side of it, wondering what the heck relevance this book had to a young reader. The pictures were gorgeous of course, and the text placement well thought out and the paper quality excellent… but I missed the magic boat initially. So I read it again without my analytical, book critic glasses on. It occurred to me that from the perspective of a young child, this book was a pure slice of lovely. Who cares if it was slightly off-center with where-is-this-going logic?! I had to look at it the way I have to look at the genius of the incomparable A Hole Is to Dig for example.
If you want to see a whale you shouldn’t watch the clouds, some floating by some hanging down in the sky, that’s spread out side to side or the certain sun that’s shining because if you start to look straight up you just might miss a whale.
I read an interview of Fogliano recently where she remarked that she loved working with Erin Stead because Stead often knew what she was trying to express better than she did. And I think this point is especially evocative in this story. The illustrations make the magic; they connect the sometimes disparate sentences. Don’t get me wrong; the writing is great, and the cadence is well done… you just have to snuggle up with someone little and love it with them and for them to really appreciate it.