Larissa Theule

Book - 2023

A young girl feels lost after the death of her mother, but when she and her father visit their lake house, she takes out the small boat she and her mom built together and somehow, in the wind and rain, reconnects with her mother's love.

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Picture books
New York : Viking 2023.
Main Author
Larissa Theule (author)
Other Authors
Abigail Halpin (illustrator)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Ages 4-8.
Grades K-1.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

A young girl feels adrift after the death of her mother. On a trip with her father to the family lake house, Faye's spare, first-person narration speaks directly to her loss: "The wind is your voice. You whisper to me. I can't understand what you are saying." At the kitchen table there is a new distance and emptiness between Faye and her father. The complexity of grief is expressed with poetic economy: "The quiet is so loud." Acutely sensing her mother's absence inside the house, the child heads to the lake to seek solace in "Faye & Mama's Mouseboat." Out on the water, Faye deeply feels the enduring connection to her mother as she navigates her way through a thunderstorm as well as her own emotional maelstrom. Riding the roiling waves, the child's words emphatically swirl across the page in capital letters: "YOU'RE HERE!" In Halpin's expansive and atmospheric watercolor, colored-pencil, and digital illustrations, dark moody--blue backgrounds brighten into a warm orange-red montage of memories and comforting messages of "YOU'RE GOING TO BE OKAY. BE BRAVE. I LOVE YOU." Returning home, Faye reconnects with her father and finds shelter in his loving, open arms. With sensitivity and immediacy, this prescient picture book charts a cathartic journey through grief to hope.

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

With spare, heartfelt text, Theule invites readers into a narrating child's deepest feelings about missing their deceased mother and finding a way to feel at home again after her death. As the child and their father, who read as East Asian, arrive at their home near water's edge, the child suggests that their mother's voice on the wind can't be understood, and expresses a yearning ("The quilt you made smells like you.// ... Dad does everything different"). When emotional searching keeps sleep at bay, the child races out of the house to take the small craft labeled "Faye & Mama's Mouseboat" out onto the water, despite an approaching storm. Adrift in the wind, spray, and thunder, a line reveals the previously missing presence ("You're here!"), which gives way to the comforting, longed-for voice and reassuring words. Halpin's crisp mixed-media art depicts a lush green woodland and brilliant blue water that shimmers, roils, laps, and crashes in dramatic scenes that mimic the child's emotional journey. Ages 4--8. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Horn Book Review

Faye and her father arrive at a cabin by a lake. Her first-person narration addresses someone who's not there: "Your chair is empty...The quilt you made smells like you." Faye doesn't identify her mother, but it's clear that's who she's missing. "Dad does everything different." Longing to feel close to her mom, Faye takes out Faye & Mama's Mouseboat just as thunder rumbles in the distance. As the storm begins in earnest, Faye feels her mother all around her. "The clouds sweep in fast and bring me so much more of you." After the storm passes, Faye returns to shore, where her father is waiting for her. Halpin's digital, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations create a dreamlike atmosphere that perfectly captures the story's mood. Dark blues and grays dominate the scenes when depicting sadness; warm reds telegraph comfort and safety. A good book to help children cope with loss and to help them discover fresh starts even during the most challenging times. (c) Copyright 2023. 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

It can be hard to find home again. On a trip to the lake house, young Faye addresses someone absent. Clues reveal it to be Faye's Mama. Without her presence, the house feels empty. "Dad does everything different," and the quiet between them reverberates, too. In a move to connect with Mama, the child sets off in a boat labeled "Faye & Mama's Mouseboat." In sparse but moving text, Theule explores the soft, somber moments of grief. The dynamic changes, not only between the absent and the present, but between those left behind as well. Halpin's detailed watercolor, colored pencil, and digital art captures the tone and narrative progression of Faye's story. Out on the stormy water, where not only can Mama be heard, but her voice is all-encompassing, the typography switches over to all caps, giving the moment an intimate feel. The reassuring message--"YOU'RE GOING TO BE OKAY. BE BRAVE. I LOVE YOU"--boldly placed across the spread will be felt deeply in Faye's and in readers' hearts. Halpin renders this cathartic moment in a more abstract style, as vignettes of memories are overlaid on Faye's figure, depicted in orangey-red hues. Faye returns to shore and Dad's arms. Together, the pair look at photos, and the bedroom wallpaper behind them blurs into inky scenes of memories--a synthesis of past and present. Characters present as Asian. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A soothing, reassuring look at loss and life. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.