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The Picture Book Buzz

The Antlered Ship - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF (Plus Giveaway)

Besides the house that I swear was haunted, one of my most memorable babysitting moments revolves around the question - WHY? My 15-year old self spent three hours, often wishing time really would fly, trying to answer "Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why don't birds fly at night? Why do bees sting?" and so many more. Often my answer would be followed with - "but WHY?" This peppering of questions was both a real desire to know, but also an attempt to avoid bedtime.

But who hasn't had questions they couldn't answer? Or endured a child's insatiable litany of questions about the world? In addition to one of the most intriguing and beautiful covers this year, the personality of Marco, a very curious and question-filled fox, is so endearing that I fell in love with this book. And yes, with his child-like questions as well.

The Antlered Ship

Author: Dashka Slater

Illustrators: The Fan Brothers

Publisher: Beach Lane Books (2017)

Ages: 4-8



Curiosity, adventure, animals, and friendship.

Synopsis (from Simon & Schuster):

An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of friendship and adventure. Marco the fox has a lot of questions, like: how deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? And why do birds have such lizardy feet? But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey. And, at last, Marco finds the answer to his most important question of all: What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?

Opening Lines:

The day the antlered ship arrived, Marco wondered about the wide world.

He had so many questions.

Why do some songs make you happy and others make you sad?

Why don't trees ever talk?

How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea?

Why I like this book:

First off, I love the Fan Brothers! Night Gardener is one of my favorite books. And they don't disappoint in this book. The soft muted colors, expressions, and details are phenomenal. The whimsy of the peg-legged pigeon, the warthog pirate captain, the one-eyed rat, and the battle between the mast heads will be sure to captivate and delight kids (and their parents).

Because the foxes he lives with answer his questions with "What does that have to do with chicken stew," Marco joins three deer and a band of pigeons to find other foxes who might have the answers to his questions. After braving turbulent seas, sparse food, seasickness, and pirates, the crew discovers the answer to one important question - what's the key to friendship?

Though the trip yields even more questions, it feels true to life, where there aren't always answers. After finding their wonderful island and discovering there are no foxes, Marco and his friends decide to continue exploring and asking questions. This is a touching, gorgeous book which raises interesting ideas - like "Do islands like being alone?" It's an excellent book for both those who enjoy adventures and those who like thoughtful stories.


- Activity sheets (from Simon & Schuster's website):

- make a paper boat (origami or cut paper) and draw your own map to travel.

- draw a picture of your favorite island to discover

Be sure to comment here and/or on Monday's interview of Dashka Slater to be entered into the drawing to a copy of The Antlered Ship.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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