Spirit by Cherri Ryan
Ill. by Christina Booth. Black Dog Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925381771
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Perseverance, Imagination, Adventure A powerfully emotive tale of trying again is told in spare prose, augmented with detailed digital illustrations, sure to attract younger children alive with curiosity about their world, and unwilling to give in at the first hurdle.
The young girl builds a boat from scraps around her house. She sets it to sail in the pond in the garden and is delighted when it gets to the other side of the little sea. That night she dreams of oiling its deck and scrubbing the sails and wonders how far it will sail the next day. It gets across the little rivulet into her arms. The next night she dreams again of polishing the deck and tightening the sails and sets it off the next morning across a river. Each night she dreams of what might be, and the next day she tries the boat out, each time successfully. All readers will know that something will happen to upset the routine when reading the story with its repeated phrases but will still be concerned when the boat comes asunder in the larger river.
What the young girl does next will gladden the hearts of the readers, as they experience a setback in the girl's dreams, but know that she will try again. This is a wonderfully positive story to read with young children, reaffirming the reality of not always being successful but encouraging them to try again.
Children will love following the adventure of the little boat in the illustrations, going from the pond to the rivulet then the larger river with its hazards, larger reeds and blackening skies. Christina Booth is an author illustrator and was awarded an Honour book for "Kip" in the CBCA awards.
Cherri Ryan has a background in medicine and is always impressed with children coping with change.