Random/Anne Schwartz. Apr. 2024. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593429396.
K-Gr 2–In this nearly wordless nautical romp a parent makes the right choice—abandoning a vacuum cleaner to join a child about to set sail over a rumpled carpet ocean in a ship made from piled furniture and bric-a-brac. Their faces alive with contagious excitement, the doll-like mariners in Blackall’s alternating domestic and watery scenes break out the sailor talk—“HOIST THE BURGEE!”; “Swab the poop deck!”—as they’re tossed about by rogue waves, take a breather in the doldrums while the first mate answers a phone call, then go on to giddy encounters with whales, giant squid, and sharks. Nor does the voyage end when a second grownup appears in the doorway: “I guess it’s time to vacuum the rug,” “WHAT RUG!” Along with modeling a loving family in which the adults recognize the importance of taking time to play, the Caldecott multi-medalist tucks several subtexts into her seemingly simple episode. For one, there are no gender cues in either art or narrative, and for another all three family members have lightly, ambiguously toned skin. Furthermore, while all wear tight-fitting caps on their round heads, two of the trio are hairless (apart from thin eyebrows) like patients undergoing chemotherapy or with some other condition; at least the suggestion is there, to be taken up or not by readers familiar with the look from their own families or experiences.
VERDICT Imagination fills the sails of this rousing, unusually inclusive, yarn.

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