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WHERE GO THE BOATS? by Robert Louis Stevenson Kirkus Star


by Robert Louis Stevenson ; illustrated by Chris Sheban

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-56846-352-0
Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

This Robert Louis Stevenson poem is brought to life on pages that fold out rather than turn.

On the cover, a White-presenting child with short, light-brown hair sets a toy sailboat adrift on a river. The book’s pages then open up left to right to reveal an expanding scene of the riverbank, with several more of these toy boats sailing down the water. Two to four lines of Stevenson’s verse are shared in white type on each page. As the book unfolds readers see more of the scene, including a frog eyeing its insect dinner flying overhead, a deer gazing at the water, and the silhouettes of a baseball-cap–wearing grown-up fishing with a child who’s admiring the boats. Sheban’s soft, golden-hour–lit art, in what looks to be watercolor and pastel or pencil, matches the mood of the poem perfectly. While the unusual binding is a brilliant idea that allows the structure of the book to emulate a meandering river, it may prove slightly unwieldy for lap reading, as, when extended, it is more than 3 feet long. The scene is completed with a view of another White child, this one with long hair, retrieving one of the toy boats. The content of Stevenson’s poem may float over the heads of the youngest readers, but the language is gorgeously sonorous, and the art and format do a wonderful job of creating an immersive experience.

Gentle, atmospheric, and lovely.

(Board book. 2-5)