Featured in Stories and Book Lists are the dreamy delights of Melissa Castrillón. I’m sure that by now you’ve read her book, If I Had a Little Dream, created with author Nina Laden. If you haven’t—Find it! Read it! You’ll enjoy the exquisite illustrations and heartfelt, poetic story that celebrates wonder, possibility and imagination.
Yellow Kayak, their second book together is due for release January 23, is equally magical. A child and his giraffe friend set out on a sea adventure. As soon as you open the book, before you’ve even progressed to the story, you get a sense of the close bond between the unique pair. They’re a comfort to one another. True friends. Their world is charming, with touches of the surreal—a watery wonderland. Fact and fantasy merge together. Scale is playful and unrestrained. The muted colours are gentle, with a timeless quality. Character representation also has that classic feel. Laden’s rhyming verses are simple yet rich. “Yellow Kayak. Blue sky. Paddle swiftly. Wave good-bye…Shore recedes. Waves grow. Adventure begins. Winds blow…Squall starts. Rain blowing. Feeling lost. Keep going.” Castrillón’s illustrations pull everything together. Artistic framing and going beyond the gutter of the page, forms unity between words and pictures.
As you can read from the above excerpt, the pair’s adventure takes an unexpected turn. What gets them through the howling wind and pounding surf? Their fortitude, friendship, and faith. Once the sea calms, the wonders they experience are extraordinary. “Octopus visits. Salmon run. Otters splash. Having fun.” The boy and the giraffe are unfazed by a wandering shark and by a pod of large, looming whales. Their courage has been strengthen by the trials of their adventure, and as the morning dawn, readers will be strengthen by their story also, by the valiant pair’s bond and endurance, by their stunning sea story.