PPBF – Story Boat

I love the work of both the author and illustrator of today’s Perfect Picture Book. And as we journey towards a new year ahead, what could be better than a story about a journey towards a new home.

Title: Story Boat

Written By: Kyo Maclear

Illustrated By: Rashin Kheiriyeh

Publisher/Date: Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: refugees, migration, journey, imagination

Opening:

Here we are.

What’s that? Well, here is…

Here is just here.

Brief Synopsis:

A young girl creates a story from everyday objects for her younger brother as they and their family journey to a new home.

Links to Resources:

  • The unnamed narrator and her brother have left their home to journey to another one. What would you bring with you if you had to leave your home?
  • Find a few common objects in your home, like a bowl or plate, a blanket or pillow, or a book. What else could these things be or become? Perhaps a flying saucer? A billowing cloud? A bird that takes flight?
  • Check out the Educator’s Guide for more activity ideas.

Why I Like this Book:

In lyrical language and soft illustrations, two children journey with their family from an unnamed home to a new land. In trying to answer her younger brother’s questions about where they are, where they are going, and where “home” is, the narrator weaves a story from everyday objects that accompany them – the cup from which they drink is a boat to carry them towards their destination. A soft blanket covers them at night and acts as a sail for their boat. A bright light becomes a lighthouse, illuminating their journey. And a story helps buoy them as they await the journey’s end and the promise of a new home.

With its focus on imaginative storytelling and everyday objects, Story Boat is a hope-filled addition to the picture books portraying the refugee experience. There’s no mention of the horrors that the family left, and no sense of an unwelcoming reception at their new home. This story is filled with objects and community scenes that will resonate with young children, and that, I think, will help readers empathize with these young refugees.

A Note about Craft:

Maclear uses first-person point of view to tell this story, which helps readers journey along with the children and empathize with them. Who hasn’t wondered at some point where they are and what being “here” really means?

But while the point of view draws the reader into the story, the focus on the children’s storytelling and imagination helps keep the story hope-filled. It also adds an element of fantasy that renders this difficult topic more kid-friendly.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

4 responses to “PPBF – Story Boat

  1. I love Kyo MacLear’s books! And this one is beautiful Have you read Birds, Art, Life, one of her books for adults?

  2. What a lovely story that introduces young children to immigration! I love the girl’s imagination. Beautiful share today!

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