Ocean meets sky

Terry Fan

Book - 2018

"A little boy builds a ship to honor his late grandfather and sets sail for the magical place where ocean meets sky from his grandfather's stories"--

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Picture books
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers [2018]
Main Author
Terry Fan (author)
Other Authors
Eric Fan (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

NEEDLESS TO SAY, small children won't be reading this review. It is aimed squarely at the grown-ups who buy picture books, borrow them, give them as gifts and read them aloud to children. Of all these transactions - buying, borrowing, giving and reading aloud - the one that really counts is the last. Reading a book to a small child can create a connection of exquisite intimacy, with the book itself as a vital point of contact. The quality of such a book is inextricably linked to the quality of that interaction. Such thoughts are stirred by these four new picture books featuring a loving relationship between a child and a grandparent. Leafing through each of these books, one tends to step outside the story and imagine it being read by grandparent to child. The fact that the two parties in this imagined scenario are in the earliest and latest chapters of their lives lends each book more than the usual measure of emotion. I REALLY WANT TO SEE YOU, GRANDMA (CHRONICLE, 40 PR, $18.99; AGES 3 TO 6), Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi, was first published in Japan in 1979. Here it is, almost 40 years later, with its spare text translated into English. It hasn't aged a bit. The book tells the simple story of an old woman and her granddaughter, who set off at the same time to visit each other across a broad valley. Using several modes of transportation, they twice miss each other en route but finally meet halfway for a happy picnic under a tree. The humor of this trifling anecdote is uncannily pitched to 3- to 6-year-olds, and Gomi's witty one-dimensional illustrations drolly complement his storytelling. A mom, a grandpa, a cabby, a cat, a rampant goat and a face-licking cow expand the lively cast of characters without ever being mentioned in the text. And what fun to see Granny on a motorcycle! The author Minh Le and the illustrator Dan Santat have teamed up for drawn together (HYPERION, 32 PR, $17.99; AGES 4 TO 8), another book whose pictures give an extra measure of help telling the story. This time a young Thai-American boy is dropped off to visit his grandfather. The two sit in awkward silence, separated by their gaping age difference and by an impenetrable language barrier (the old man's dialogue is even scribbled in Thai). Not even a Southeast Asian action video engages the interest of the hapless lad. But when he idly plucks art supplies from his backpack, he and his granddad discover a shared enthusiasm for drawing action figures. At this point Santat's staid, prosaic images explode into garish, kinetic life as the two create a comicbook epic featuring a ferocious dragon and two embattled heroes modeled on themselves. The heavily symbolic epic, it must be said, makes little sense to this particular grandfather, but it is charged with visual drama. The story ends with the old man and his grandson in each other's arms, brought together by wordless affection and the power of their shared imagination. This touching lesson in empathy and family love may resonate more with a grown-up reader than a child (no child ever spoke the sentence "my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words"). Still, the book's heart is firmly in the right place, and Santat's illustrations of both the real-life and fantasy worlds of the two main characters are beautifully rendered. Another book also bears the weight of a grown-up message, but this one carries it a bit more gracefully. This is ocean meets SKY (SIMON &SCHUSTER, 48 PR, $17.99; AGES 4 to 8), by the Fan Brothers. Sharing the roles of both author and illustrator, these two brothers have taken on the daunting challenge of introducing children to the grave fact of death. The central character in the book is a boy named Finn who lives in a house by the sea. With the gentle device of a verb tense, the authors reveal that Finn's fisherman grandfather has recently died (he "would have been 90 years old today"). The impact of his absence is suggested by an empty chair in a darkened office. The room is cluttered with the old man's books, tools and bric-a-brac, objects that fill Finn's mind with fragmented memories of him. "To honor him," Finn builds a boat on the beach, using found objects and detritus. Exhausted from his labors, he naps inside his rickety craft and, in a fantastical dream that recalls such books as "Where the Wild Things Are," he sails it out to sea. From this point on, the book's lovely, muted illustrations depict a world of melancholy magic. We see a giant golden fish, islands made of books and seashells, a "sea of moon jellies dancing." Everywhere there are little reminders of Finn's grandfather, all of them traceable to the objects in that ghostly office. A kind of spirit guide finally appears in the shape of an enormous blue whale, leading Finn through a misty universe of floating and flying memories. Finn's mother awakens him near the end of the book. As he stands alone on the beach and takes one last look at moon and sky, he appears to contemplate for the very first time the mysteries of life and death. This is moving stuff for a grown-up, though it may be pretty heady fare for a lot of kids. Of these four fine books, the real gem is TINY, PERFECT THINGS (COMPENDIUM, 32 PP„ $16.95; ages 3 to 7), written by M. H. Clark and illustrated by Madeleine Kloepper, whose first name triggers associations with Ludwig Bemelmans, who may well be her stylistic muse. There's really no story here at all. On the first page we see an old man and his rambunctious granddaughter strolling the sunny sidewalks and leafy yards of a small town. The text begins with a disarmingly simple statement: "Today we keep our eyes open for tiny, perfect things." Each ensuing sentence has the same deadpan straightforwardness, peppered with a few fun, fractured rhymes. Grandpa and grandchild chronicle everything they find: leaf, snail, apple, crow, spider's web, bottle cap. The verdant flora in Kloepper's illustrations teems with hidden insects, birds and neighborhood pets. All of them reappear in a crowded twopage panoply toward the end of the book, setting the stage for a delightful game between old reader and young listener: "How many perfect things can you find?" As night falls, grandfather and grandchild return to the warm, welcoming interior of a clapboard house. Here we meet the girl's parents. Mom, who is white, hugs her daughter; Dad, who is brown-skinned, serves up supper; Grandpa settles into a comfy chair. The scene sends off several signals that might seem too distinctly politically correct (besides tweaking gender stereotypes the family is racially mixed), but it does so with such unforced sweetness that its familiar sentiments simply warm the heart. You can almost hear the sighs of contentment from a doting grandparent and happy child. JOHN LITHGOW, the actor and musician, is the author of nine children's picture books, most recently "Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [June 17, 2018]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Readers and listeners set sail for a surreal dreamscape in the Fan brothers' (The Night Gardener, 2016) newest offering, which follows a young boy's journey to where the ocean and sky meet. Through spare text and exquisite artwork (graphite drawings, digitally colored), the story unfolds as Finn builds a boat from scraps on the beach to find this magical place from his grandfather's tales. Awakening from a nap belowdecks, the boy discovers he is gently bobbing on the open water beneath white clouds resembling an elephant, a whale, and a pipe puffing smoke. As day turns to night, a giant whiskered catfish approaches Finn's boat and offers to guide him to where ocean meets sky. They pass incredible islands, until, finally, the air and sea merge. In a series of phantasmagoric spreads, a castle nestles in a cloud, ghostly jellyfish mingle with the stars, and Victorian airships sail alongside clipper ships and a blue whale. Finn sails by these wonders toward the large golden moon, whose smiling face is very much like that of his beloved grandfather's. This amorphous, imaginative adventure carries threads of grief and closure that will bypass most youngsters, but they will be enthralled by the magical illustrations and accepting of the notion that the fantastic worlds of dreams and stories truly exist.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Young Finn¿s grandfather, when he was alive, had a white pointed beard that made him look like a sage. He told Finn stories about ¿a place far away where ocean meets sky.¿ Now, to celebrate the day his grandfather would have been 90, Finn creates a boat out of wood scraps, then drifts off to sleep inside it. In a dream, a great, mustachioed golden carp appears to help Finn find the place his grandfather described: ¿It¿s up and down and very far.¿ Finn sails through nautical fancies that attentive readers will recognize as curiosities from his grandfather¿s study, at last reaching a starry, light-filled paradise where schooners, hot-air balloons, dirigibles, a blue whale, and even the Titanic all sail serenely for eternity¿and the full moon contains the smiling face of his grandfather. Meticulous draftsmanship by the Fan brothers (The Night Gardener) gives the spreads genuine majesty; Finn¿s tiny craft is barely visible among the great vessels. The artists imagine not a general, one-size-fits-all afterlife, but one that Finn and his grandfather share¿and one that readers will feel privileged to share with them. Ages 4¿8. Agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (May)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-The Fan brothers' elegant illustrations and understated yet emotion-packed storytelling create a picture book that is at once mystical, magical, and magnetic. Finn, a boy of Asian descent who lives by the sea, remembers the stories his grandfather told him about a faraway place "where ocean meets sky." Today would have been Grandpa's 90th birthday, and Finn honors him by building a boat for the journey they had planned together. After cobbling together driftwood, an old tire, window frames, and other discarded materials, he crawls inside the vessel for a short nap. When he awakens, the boat is at sea; but this is no ordinary voyage. A massive golden fish with a mustache and goatee agrees to lead Finn to the destination described in his grandfather's tales. After visiting several amazing locales (including the Library Islands, where "bookish birds" roost and read), the boat lifts skyward ("or had the water fallen away?"). Finn glides through eye-catching spreads filled with wonders from ocean and air (a magnificent mélange of giant whales, submarines, sailing ships, dirigibles, hot air balloons, and more) toward a full moon with a very familiar and much-longed-for face. Summoned home by his mother's call, Finn stands on the seashore, looks to the moon, and acknowledges that "It had been a good day for sailing." Rendered in graphite and colored digitally, the artwork masterfully blends realistic details with soaring flights of fancy. VERDICT This grand adventure stirs imaginations while also celebrating a loving intergenerational relationship and providing comfort and closure after loss. Readers will want to share this affecting title one-on-one, with plenty of time to pore over the gorgeous artwork.-Joy Fleishhacker, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Finn builds a boat for his deceased grandfather's ninetieth birthday, and a golden fish guides him on a dream journey to the magical place "where ocean meets sky." Three stunning wordless spreads then lead to a glowing moon with the features of Finn's Asian grandfather. Precise graphite drawings, digitally colored in deep blues and soft grays, are a lovely, mystical complement to an understated story of loss and comfort. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A young boy adventures into a fantastical realm, where ocean meets sky and the spirit of his grandfather lives on.Finn, who lives by the sea, remembers his grandpa: his voice, his sayings, his extraordinary stories. To honor him, Finn builds a boat on the beach, creating a wonderful fort out of flotsam and jetsam. While asleep in his creation, the lonely boy dreams of a mustachioed golden fish, which leads him through wondrous surroundings. Whales swim among the stars, and celestial ships intermingle with zeppelins and subs. But it's the fish that must be followed, as it transforms into the moon and reveals itself to be Finn's grandfather, a benevolent Asian face illuminating the child's world. Just as Finn begins to say goodbye, he hears his mother calling him home with the promise of a dumpling supper. Graphite renderings, digitally colored in a cool palette, recall hand-tinted etchings. Dazzling spreads, full of texture and detail, offer much for readers to explore. Inspiration from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and David Wiesner's Flotsam can be seen in both story and art. However, the Fan Brothers' approach to loss, healing, and intergenerational relationships makes this a unique and refreshing offering. A stunning, dreamlike voyage into the heart of a child. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.