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Monday, August 20, 2018

The Antlered Ship, written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by The Fan Brothers. Beach Lane Books, Simon & Schuster. 2017. $23.99 ages 5 and up

"But the voyage was more difficult that anyone expected. It rained. Waves crashed over the sides of the deck. Why is water so wet? Marco wondered. The deer worried about sharp rocks and fierce pirates and feeling seasick."

I have read so much about this book, and am thankful to be able to share it with you today. It is Marco's story. He is a fox with a pressing need for answers. He has questions on his mind from morning until night ... often, they are questions that rarely have answers. Still, he has a need to know.

"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?"

When a ship crewed by an inept threesome of deer docks close to his Land of Foxes, he is not surprised they are lost and agrees to join them, along with a flock of pigeons. Marco wants to find other foxes with answers to his many questions. The ship is headed to the island of their dreams.

The voyage is fraught with surprising difficulties. The pigeons, finding the work more tedious than they thought it would be, retreat to the galley to play checkers. The deer, who have no idea what they are doing and constantly worrying about untold danger, are paralyzed by their fear and await whatever fate has in store for them. Things do not look good.

Marco takes matters in hand. First, he cooks a warm stew with available ingredients. Then, he suggests a look at maps and charts to set a course for the 'sweet tree island.' Off they go, using the pigeon's flight skills to guide them in a clear path. When faced with intimidating pirates, they refuse to succumb to their threats. Finally, they spot their destination. Foxes? No!

The others have found what they were looking for; Marco has found no answers to his myriad of queries. However, he may have found something much more enduring. Perhaps finding friends is even more important than it is to find answers.

The Fan Brothers bring their incredible artistic talent to each and every detailed spread, moving readers from the beauty and fury of the sea to the cozy comfort the animals find below deck together.
You must see it to truly appreciate everything about it, from the rich feel of the cover, to the endpaper maps of that initial journey, to the visual effects for every mile of their sea voyage.  You will not read it quickly. It is a keeper!

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