Review: Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers [CILIP Kate Greenaway shortlisted title].
Finn misses a grandfather, a man who loved the sea and told stories about the place where the ocean meets the sky. To honour grandfather’s memory, Finn builds a boat on the beach and falls asleep beneath the decks. The boat comes to life and takes Finn on a voyage. Through floating whales and magical ships the boat sails, until Finn is able to say goodbye to his grandfather.
A touching story about grief and life’s big adventures.
These are the sort of pictures it is possible to look at for hours. They are so magical, so impossible but yet so real, that feel more like they have been breathed into life than painted. Every cloud floats by and every air balloon seems filled with real oxygen. If you love illustrations by David Wiesner or Shaun Tan you will understand what I mean about being absorbed in the scene.
Many writers are told from an early age never, ever to end a story with it was all a dream. While I think it is a cliche that early writers fall back on, I believe there is room for experienced creators to take us into dreamscapes and explore how the experiences in our dreams change our lives. The same goes for play or daydreams. Huge part of our lives are spent dreaming and it would be a pity if that was never reflected in stories or art.
Looking at the illustrations – at cloud castles in the sky and birds roosting among stacks of books – reminds us that there are places where anything is possible.
As a Kate Greenaway contender, I think the book’s power is in it’s strength to inspire readers to venture into their own magical places. I can see the pictures inspiring play, art and whole new stories.
The ultimate message is that we can find our loved ones in our minds. If we can conjure up cloud castles and flying whales we will always be able to revisit our memories and explore our love for that person.
A work of art which takes readers into the powerful landscape of creativity. Magical.
Thanks to Riot Communications and Quarto Books for my gifted copy of Ocean Meets Sky. Opinions my own.