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The Picture Book Buzz

Hope At Sea - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

If you're like me and have loved (or at least enjoyed) Daniel Miyares books, Float, Night Out, Little Fox in the Snow, and A Chip Off the Old Block, you are going to adore his newest book. With stunning illustrations, unique page layouts, and a poignant story of hope and a father-daughter relationship, this is a magnificent picture book.

Hope At Sea: An Adventure Story

Author/Illustrator: Daniel Miyares

Publisher: Anne Schwartz Books/Penguin Random House Canada (2021)

Ages: 4-8

Historical Fiction


Family, father-daughter relationship, adventure, and hope.


Hope doesn’t only want to listen to her father’s stories about his voyages at sea, she wants to be part of those stories.

And so, unbeknownst to her parents, she stows away on her father's 19th-century merchant vessel. But look... The wind has picked up and the sky is darkening...

Could there be such a thing as an adventure that is too exciting?

Join high-spirited Hope on a trip of a lifetime in this exquisitely illustrated picture book that also captures the love between a father and child.

Opening Lines:

Whenever my world feels small,

I turn to the sea.

The new clipper ship is almost done.

That means Papa will be leaving soon.

He is the ship’s carpenter and will keep it seaworthy on

the long voyage. Oh, how I wish I could join him!

What I LOVED about this book:

You are all in for a treat. This is an exciting adventure, a lesson on letting the text and the illustrations leave room for the reader, and an offering of a small bit of light - of hope - to guide us through our own storms.

Hope loves the sea and wants to join her father in his adventures (don't you just love the way she holds the ship in the bottle against the horizon?), rather than just hear tales upon his return. So, she sneaks on board. I love the "old fashioned" feel of that the sepia tone provides.

Text & Image © Daniel Miyares, 2021.

In addition to gorgeous historic illustrations and nautical terminology ("ALL ABOARD! MAKE SAIL! ALL HANDS ON DECK!"), Daniel Miyares deftly uses lyrical language - "sails snap to attention and salute the wind" - to put the reader into the adventure with Hope. And while much of his text is very succinct, he also makes skillful use of his talent creating nearly wordless, or totally wordless spreads. (Notice Hope's transformation above.) For instance, as she watches the harbor recede and worries about her father's reaction, Hope is portrayed alone in poignant half spreads. Then when she's discovered -

Text & Image © Daniel Miyares, 2021.

with this stunning wordless spread, Daniel leaves her father's reaction open (a little) for the readers to interpret based on their own experiences. Was he harsh and then forgiving? Calmly explaining why she was reckless and comforting? Secretly proud (and perhaps amused) of his daughter's gumption, but needing to remind her of her mother's worry?

Unable to turn back, Hope slowly (and with a bit of frustration) learns to pitch in on the clipper. There are two wonderfully poignant moments showing the loving relationship of Hope and her father - but I'll let you discover them. I was floored by Daniel's illustration that shows not only the size of the ship, but the passage of time ("We travel for weeks.") and simultaneously two harbors where the clipper collects cargo - seamlessly moving from an evening with icebergs to an afternoon at a tropical port where the crew dives off the bow sprit.

Text & Image © Daniel Miyares, 2021.

Honestly, I wish I could show you so many more of the illustrations. Check out our interview on Monday for another favorite of mine. Then be sure to check out the book to see the enormity and scale of a storm and the slow narrowing of focus over three spreads for the climax. And of course you're going to want to discover the twist at the end and then hunt through the earlier illustrations for the foreshadowing Daniel inserted.

This is a wonderful book with many layers of hope, both in the character's name and personality, as well as the wonderful ending. It is a special celebration of the love and respect of a father and daughter. And an intriguing glimpse at what it meant to be a merchant mariner in the early 1900's. A picture book to cherish for the story and its stunning illustrations. Many of which would make phenomenal prints. This is definitely a "NOT-to-be missed" book.


- make your own paper boat (easy) or cardboard clipper (harder).

- check out how to build a ship in a bottle (here) and (video).

- when Hope's dad finds her as a stowaway, it is a wordless spread. How do you think he reacted? What do you think he said to Hope? What makes you think that?

- if you live near, or visit a harbor, check to see if there is a clipper ship you can tour or book a ride on. Would you have wanted to live there for months or during a big storm? Why or why not? What would have been the hardest part?

If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Daniel Miyares (here).

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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