Review by Booklist Review
Fatherless Lucian walks the beach after a storm finding "faraway things"--a trio of jellyfish, a heavy red rope, and a bright silver, gold, and copper cutlass. Swinging it around and slashing the sky, he makes a vent in the clouds. A fog rolls in and, with no lamp in the lighthouse, a mysterious ship becomes stranded on a sandbar. A tall captain steps ashore to retrieve his cutlass and offers to trade anything on his ship to get it back; Lucian rows out to the great wooden vessel to find a feast of glittering treasures. He selects a large glowing light, carries it onto his skiff, and rows home. He mounts it in the lighthouse tower where it turns the ocean silver, gold, and copper. The compelling story is enhanced by the stunning full-bleed illustrations in ink and watercolor, which show in atmospheric detail the rocky shore, the stormy coastline and ship, and Lucian's cozy home. Challenge readers to choose a prize from the ship's abundant hoard during story time.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
When pale-skinned Lucian brings home a magnificent cutlass he's found on the beach, his mother has doubts. "Is it a faraway thing?" she asks, using his father's phrase for treasures washed up on the beach. "Yup," he assures her. When he hangs it on his wall, in their home below a defunct lighthouse, he dreams of his father. The next day, the cutlass's owner appears by rowboat--a captain whose galleon is stuck on a sandbar. A bald, brown-skinned man in modern-looking spectacles, he approaches Lucian with an offer: "If you return the cutlass, I'll let you choose whatever object you like from the treasures I've accumulated." The moment that Lucian enters the room is tense. "Choose wisely," the captain says, and readers watch as the child relinquishes his prize for a quieter treasure in a step out of childhood and into responsibility. Sweeping multimedia art by Murphy (Together We Grow) gives the galleon, its crew, and the ocean grandeur. The story raises more questions than it answers--about the boy's father and the nonworking lighthouse--but Eggers (We Became Jaguars) tells his swashbuckling yarn with screenplay-like polish that feels just as expansive as Murphy's art. Ages 4--8. Author's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 3--5--Lucian loves searching for faraway things--items with no obvious owner--that have drifted ashore near his home. One day, after a great storm has raged through the night, Lucian happens upon a cutlass, and it is unlike anything he has found before. He carefully secures it to the wall of his bedroom, inspiring a series of dreams about his late father. After the fog clears, Lucian notices a large ship in the bay, stuck in a sandbar because there was no lighthouse to guide its passage. The ship's captain comes ashore and, because the cutlass is rightfully his, allows Lucian to choose another of the captain's treasures in exchange for the sword. Lyrical, descriptive language allows Lucian's story to gently unfold. The writing invites readers into a narrative that is deeper than it first appears; longer sentences and more nuanced storytelling make this title best suited to older elementary readers. This story is enjoyable to read aloud, though the illustrations deserve equal attention. Watercolor and ink bring Lucian's world to life in hues of primarily blue, gray, and brown, encapsulating the feel of a seaside home. Rich landscapes couple with minute detail, resulting in captivating and compelling visuals. Lucian and his mother are white, as are most of the ship's crew; however, the captain and a few of the other crew members have darker skin. VERDICT A beautiful story about adventure and honoring a father's memory, this is a noteworthy addition to elementary school libraries.--Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver P.L.
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Review by Horn Book Review
Eggers and Murphy have crafted an evocative story that centers imaginative play and gently explores loss. Set on an unspecified rocky shore, the narrative follows Lucian, a young beachcomber in search of what his father had called "faraway things." The (unexplained) absence of the boy's father permeates the illustrations (family photos, an empty chair, an oversized flannel shirt) and is reinforced through past-tense language. After a storm, Lucian discovers a cutlass, which becomes the focus of his play, from chopping driftwood to pretending to cut the sun in half. His fun comes to a dramatic halt as the ocean fog clears to reveal a stranded ship stuck on a nearby sandbar. An improbable and fanciful sequence of events follows -- including the boat's captain identifying the cutlass as his own and striking up a deal to trade it back for one of his "treasures." Lucian swaps the sword for a lantern that he uses to relight the family's inoperative lighthouse, perhaps serving as both a tribute to his father and a healing step forward. The mixed-media illustrations depict a range of fascinating perspectives across wide double-page spreads. While most of the story is set against gorgeously atmospheric seascapes, a few interior scenes present visually jam-packed arrangements that encourage thorough examination. A pleasingly enigmatic tale. Patrick Gall July/August 2021 p.73(c) Copyright 2021. 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 found "faraway thing" becomes a turning point in the life of a boy. "Lucian live[s] with his mother on a windswept shore." His father has been absent from their lighthouse home for long enough that Lucian worries his real memories of him are fading. After a storm, Lucian combs the beach for what his father had called "faraway things"--objects tossed up by the sea--and finds a cutlass. Thrilled, he plays with it, sweeping and slashing the air. The next day dawns foggy, but when it lifts Lucian spies a stranded sailing ship. As he watches, a rowboat is lowered from the ship and moves toward him. The captain steps ashore, wearing a sheath that matches the cutlass. He tells Lucian the cutlass belongs to him, but in trade, the captain will let Lucian select anything from his treasures. Lucian reluctantly realizes the cutlass belongs to the captain and agrees. At the ship, the captain shows Lucian wonderful things and advises him to "choose wisely." Lucian does. This bildungsroman's timeless and slightly otherworldly feel is underscored by its illustrations' muted, effective palette of earth, sea, and sky tones. Unusual perspectives--an ingenious choice for a muted palette--create visual stimulation, showing views from both above and below the horizon line. Satisfyingly, the endpapers allegorically start and finish the story. The captain has dark skin; Lucian and the others have light skin. An evocative picture-book bildungsroman with equally atmospheric illustrations. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.