To the Sea - Cale Atkinson
Sometimes Tim feels invisible at school-until one day, when Tim meets Sam. But Sam isn't just any new friend: he's a blue whale, and he can't find his way home! Returning Sam to the sea is hard work, but Tim is determined to help. After all, it's not every day you meet a new friend!
I saw a poster recently, for an author/illustrator visit to the fabulous Kidsbooks in Vancouver. The event was to highlight Cale Atkinson and his new book, To the Sea. All I had to see (sea) was the cover, and I just HAD to buy it. So I did. And I was not disappointed. I am a huge fan of large, adorable animals with smiley faces, and well, Atkinson's illustrations fit that description, and with a great story to boot!
Poor Tim feels totally invisible at school and around his peers, and if this wasn't sad enough, one day he came across a blue whale stranded in the playground! No, I know you're thinking "That's impossible!" But it's totally explained, so it's much more believable: "He didn't know his lefts from his rights." And the blue whale's name was Sam. Sam and Tim become friends as Tim tries to figure out how to get Sam back to the ocean where he belongs. Through adorable illustrations and an even more adorable series of unlikely events, Tim and Sam make their way back to the ocean!
This is a gorgeous tale of unexpected friendship, told through hyperbole and extended metaphor. Atkinson uses a fabulous colour palette, exaggerating the indoors and the human components of the book through a series of bright oranges and warm colours, which works incredibly well against the muted, cool colours which are used to illustrate Sam and his surroundings. Sam's adorable little fins and his cute little eyebrows (I know, I know, I'm using "little" when blue whales are huge... but give me a break! It's a picturebook!)
In some ways reminiscent of Beekle (in that everyone seems to either ignore or be too busy to notice Tim and Sam), To the Sea is a hilariously heart-warming story for children and adults alike. I only wish I'd had a chance to meet Atkinson in person to tell him this. I hope this review will suffice, Mr. Atkinson!!