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THE ANTLERED SHIP by Dashka Slater Kirkus Star


by Dashka Slater ; illustrated by Terry Fan & Eric Fan

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4814-5160-4
Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

A philosophical fox full of questions boards a ship with strangers and discovers that finding friends is even better than finding answers.

Russet-furred Marco wonders about everything. His fellow foxes care mainly about dinner. When a great, antlered wooden ship, captained by a deer named Sylvia, docks in the harbor, Marco goes down to see it. Intrigued by the possibility of finding other foxes who share his curiosity, Marco decides to set sail, as do an adventurous flock of pigeons led by Victor, pictured as a one-legged bird in a bandanna. While they struggle a bit with the unfamiliar tasks and are beset by the typical dangers that sailors face, Marco, Sylvia, and Victor each contribute to the success of their journey. In the mostly dreamy, delicate pen-and-pencil illustrations, colored digitally, Marco the fox and the other animals are shown as sapient but not completely anthropomorphized. The antlered ship is delightfully detailed and decorated, the pirates our heroes encounter are appropriately toothy and threatening (even the cutlass-wielding mouse), and the sepia-colored maps on the endpapers feature deliciously evocative names. The old-fashioned appearance of the Fans’ artwork perfectly suits Slater’s contemplative, musing tone. While the ending is hardly a surprise, it feels right, true, and not the least bit clichéd.

A beautifully composed package filled with whimsy and wisdom—the story of this unique vessel will inspire and entertain thoughtful listeners.

(Picture book. 4-7)