Sunday Afternoon Visits: May 20
Hugo & Miles In I've Painted Everything: Scott Magoon

A Sea-Wishing Day: Robert Heidbreder

A Sea-Wishing Day, written by Robert Heidbreder, and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, tells in rhyming verse the story of a boy and his dog glorying in an adventure-filled day at sea. The small, orange-haired narrator and his dog, Skipper start out with a toy boat in a backyard wading pool.Then the boy's imagination runs amok, and he and Skipper set sail. They encounter a sea monster, a deserted island, and a band of pirates, and eventually sail home on the back of a helpful porpoise. The story celebrates imagination and adventure.

The rhyming text is catchy, and should appeal to younger children, making it easy from them to predict the end of the next line. Heidbreder is not afraid to use grown-up words from time to time, too, as in this exchange:

I shimmied the rigging
To the crow's nest.
I skimmed the deep blue
From east to west.

I like the internal parallel of "shimmied" and "skimmed". On an earlier page, he writes: "A ship came billowing by." It's beautiful. At first I thought that some of the rhymes were too simple. But they resonated in my head long after I had closed the book, and I've concluded that the poetry is actually quite powerful. Here's another example:

Up popped a porpoise.
It offered a ride.
We bobbed through the drink
As it swam with the tide.

The colorful gouache illustrations (like watercolor, but with more pigment) spill from each page, as though Denton's enthusiasm can't quite be contained. Gouache is the perfect medium to capture the colors of the ocean. I especially enjoyed the "rogue wave", a gloomy face made from a fall of water. Other pictures share sly little jokes with the discerning reader, too. For example, when boy and dog are escaping from the pirates, the boy thumbs his nose, while the chief pirate looks positively surly. The sea monster's foul smell is also fully demonstrated through the pictures, adding depth to the words. 

Reading A Sea-Wishing Day aloud would be a fine way for any parent and pre-schooler to while away an afternoon hour. This is a book that will improve upon multiple readings, become a long-time favorite.

Book: A Sea-Wishing Day
Author: Robert Heidbreder (Author), Kady MacDonald Denton (Illustrator)
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Original Publication Date: March 2007
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6
Source of Book: Review copy from Raab Associates

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.