Yellow Kayak

illus. by Melissa Castrillon. 32p. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534401945.
PreS-K—A child in a red-and-white striped shirt and a giraffe with red spots set off in a kayak. Their journey is presented in four-line verses that rhyme. The narration is generally third person ("Yellow kayak./Lightning streaks./Thunder roars./Sea wall leaks."), although Laden occasionally mixes voices midstream, presumably to preserve the iambic flow and brevity: "Rain stops./Be brave./Bail boat./Good save." The brave little sailor and his oarsman remain a calm comfort to one another. Their 48-hour adventure offers viewers a glimpse at a variety of swirling underwater life from salmon and squid to otters and octopuses. A second threat from a school of whales is quickly resolved. The compositions, rendered in pencil and digitally colored, are dominated by blue-greens and pinks with touches of other colors, particularly golden yellow. Castrillon has an apparent fondness for scrollwork, a predilection that lends many of her scenes a folk-art flavor, a sense of the decorative also seen in her first collaboration with Laden, If I Had a Little Dream. Some may find certain scenes overly ornamental, as on a page with mixed perspective in which the kayak and a seagull are viewed from above, while the clouds and a curtain of arabesques seem to be placed head-on. Those who prefer more active protagonists will need to look elsewhere.
VERDICT The visual and aural rhythms of this circular voyage are probably best suited to sleepy snugglers.

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