Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review: In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van, illustrated by April Chu (2015)

In a village by the sea, a mother and baby wait for a father to return home, while, on his boat, the father hopes for the end to a violent storm.

This book has beautiful dream-like pictures that are reminiscent of Keith Baker's style and color palette. Each page shows a unique perspective on a particular scene - a dog entering the kitchen where a fire is lit, a baby yawning in a basket on the counter, the dog peeking down a hole where a cricket is hidden, painting the storm which has stranded the father at sea. Because the story takes a fantastical turn when it is revealed that the cricket is a painter, the whimsical feel of the illustrations is spot-on and really elevates the story beyond the simplicity of the text.

This book is told in the same cyclical format as Here is the Key to the Kingdom and The House in the Night, making it a strong read-aloud. Preschoolers are probably the youngest kids who would be able to follow the story, especially with the strange twist, so though the text is brief, it is really not ideal for toddlers. It would pair nicely with Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Mingfong Ho and Holly Meade, which also shows a mother and child at home alone together. Visually, it is also similar to The Magic Fan by Keith Baker.

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