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Review of The Antlered Ship

The Antlered Ship
by Dashka Slater; illus. by the Fan Brothers
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.
9/17    978-1-4814-5160-4    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5161-1    $10.99

A young fox’s inquisitiveness sets him apart from the other foxes. Marco’s questions and observations are playful and wide-ranging, from “Why don’t trees ever talk?” to “How deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea?” When a mysterious ship approaches on the horizon, Marco watches, his curiosity piqued. He decides to join the ship’s wayward crew — consisting of three deer and some new pigeon recruits — as it searches for a paradise known as Sweet Tree Island. The Fan Brothers (The Night Gardener; The Darkest Night) display a knack for creating mood through rich textures and a soft color palette, giving the book a weathered and nostalgic feel. As the story goes on, the group battles a fearsome sea (“Why is water so wet?” muses Marco), survives bouts of hunger (“Marco eyed the deer and the pigeons. ‘Foxes aren’t supposed to be vegetarian…’”), and fends off a not-so-merry band of pirates. While Marco may not find the answers to all, or indeed any, of his questions, he does come to think that perhaps the answers are secondary to the questions themselves. And if the journey is indeed the destination, then it is made even better in the company of curious — in every sense of the word — companions. Featuring maps for endpapers and dramatic tableaux throughout, this feels like a book you might discover at the bottom of a dusty attic trunk.

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Minh Lê About Minh Lê

Minh Lê is the author of Drawn Together, illustrated by Dan Santat, and Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas. He blogs about children's literature at Bottom Shelf Books and writes and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and The Horn Book Magazine. He served on the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee.

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